Tuesday, June 30, 2009

hard pressed, perplexed, struck down

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but NOT ABANDONED; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Cor 4:8-9

Wow! I am hard pressed, perplexed, struck down.... I have suffered several sucker punches over the past few days. Quickly let me share this one....

I finally had the common sense to google the agency that I was communicating with about my book, and it is a scam. Every entry I found warned people not to get involved with them. I’m not sure what is worse: the rejection that so far the only people who want my writing are scammers, the embarrassment that I laid it all out there and shared with everyone that “someone wanted to read my stuff” and now it’s a scam, or the fear that now they will steal the work that I have already sent them and all that time and energy is wasted.

What do you do when all your dreams are lying in a pile at your feet? Run to Jesus. Climb up in His lap. Cry your eyes out. And never stop believing that He is in control. I have to cut this short. My eyes are leaking a little.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8)

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea (Psalm 46:2)

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Be Patient!

The Be Patient Song
Be patient!
Be patient!
Don’t be in such a hurry!
When you get impatient, you only start to worry.
Remember, remember that God has patience too,
And think of all the times that others have to wait for you.

Wow! What a day today has been! I woke up with a sore throat after not sleeping very well last night. I immediately picked up my sword and started fighting battles on every side:

1. Have to figure out how to scrape together enough money to get a few groceries in this house. We have been creating “pantry meals” all week long and have run out of almost every single staple item which could create a meal. How exactly do you feed a family of 6 for a week on just $36.89? I'm about to find out in a few minutes when I go to Aldi's.

2. I need to FAX!!!!! On Monday the trial version of the faxing software I use ran out. I purchased the full version, but must have screwed something up with my paypal payment because I ended up paying with an echeck which takes 3 to 5 business days to clear. I have been without a fax machine now since Monday. I have been mooching off a coworker to get faxes sent and obsessively checking e-mail to see if the software serial number has been e-mailed to me yet. But no worries! They expect the situation to be resolved between 6/25/09 and 6/29/09! AHHHHHH!

3. I have been trying since February to get this eyeglass/contact prescription issue figured out. On Saturday, I went to reclaim my glasses and was told they did nothing to them because they didn’t need anything done to them only to wear them on Monday and get a KILLER headache from them. Today I ended up just hanging up on the lady after I told her three times I did not have time to schedule another appointment with the doctor right now, and she kept answering but you need another appointment with the doctor.

4. My work has been so up and down lately. NO work AT ALL on Friday GOB on Monday NOTHING yesterday GOB this morning THEN on top of ALL of it: power outage this afternoon took down whole system, and I have been unable to work at all since lunch.

5. I have been deducing lately that I might have allergy-induced asthma. I have noticed that when there are severe changes in the weather (a storm blowing in) or when it is really hot or when I am around second-hand smoke I have a VERY difficult time getting a deep breath. Today has been MISERABLE for me. I cannot get a good breath and that is making me light headed.

I finally turned away from my desk at about 4:30 p.m. and closed my eyes and said, “LORD! What do you want me to learn from this?!?!?” Instantly, The Be Patient Song, started dancing through my mind. Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to be patient? How can I NOT be in such a hurry??? I have 4 children, 2 jobs, and a HUGE move coming up. It is nearing 100 degrees outside, and the second-hand smoke from next door has been choking me for two days. How can I be patient under THESE circumstances?!?!?!

“You can’t. I can.” Was the answer I heard. “You cannot!” In and of myself, I do not possess what it takes to be patient faced with so many stressful situations. Like Peter sinking into the water as the waves and wind crashed around him, I can do nothing to save myself. Also focusing on, stressing over, and rehashing the crummy stressful stuff does absolutely NOTHING.

What is the answer then? I must be pretty darn dense because God has to tell me this answer over and over and over again. Nearly EVERY single DAY! I need to take my eyes off the wind and waves and fix them on the one to whom I am trying to walk across the water towards.

I am little calmer. I still have only $36 and some change to get groceries. I still can’t fax. I still can’t breathe. I still have glasses that give me a headache, and I still cannot get onto my work’s remote site. But standing here in the middle of this storm with my eyes on the One who will eventually calm it, I feel peace surrounding me and calming my spirit. I am so grateful God sang The Be Patient Song to me today, and I am hoping for this craziness to turn around soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Worst day yet...

AHHHHHHHH! One of those literary agents wants to see my work!!!! I am FREAKING out! So excited and nervous all at the same time! Here's another recycled blog:

This was one of the worst days on record for the Kastner family. All of the following happened by 11:00 a.m.:

*I was upstairs finishing up my shower and Noah came running up and said, “Elijah’s in the refrigerator, and he has eggs!” I ran downstairs to find Elijah had been cracking eggs onto the carpet and them stomping them deep down into the fibers. I wanted to cry, but instead I cleaned up all the egg and eggshells and then used the spot cleaner on the carpet.

*A little later I was working at the computer, and I heard what I thought was the faucet in the bathroom running. I said, “Noah, I think you forgot to turn off the water in the bathroom.” He said, “No someone plugged the sink and left the water on and there’s a flood in the bathroom upstairs.” I got up and opened the door to the basement and saw water pouring out of the basement ceiling. So I ran upstairs to survey the bathroom. I found at least two inches of water on the bathroom floor, all of the drawers on the left-hand side of the sink were completely filled with water, and the carpet in the hall outside the bathroom was soaked up to about 12 inches from the bathroom door. I again wanted to cry, but instead I just got to work. I started using the shop vac to remove the water. I emptied all of the drawers: makeup was drenched, hair brushes were floating, hair dryers were completely submerged. In the process of cleaning up the bathroom, I slipped and fell into the tub running my already styled hair through the shower and getting it sopping wet. However, as this was not enough disaster for this family, the day continued as follows.

*I came downstairs from cleaning the mess up and watched Elijah throw an entire bowl of popcorn at Noah. By this point I had resigned myself to the madness and I just swept up the popcorn quietly.

At one point I was sitting in the corner drooling for a little bit. It was a very difficult day. I even googled “military preschools.” But alas, one must be in junior high before a military school will enroll you. I wanted to pull my hair out that’s for sure.

Thank goodness His grace is sufficient! I (and my children) used up a whole lotta His grace this day. That is all I have to say about that!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another oldie but goodie...

written 1/16/07...

Well, our baby girl got inaugurated into the world of the viciously ill. She had the stomach flu. She couldn't keep down anything, not even just breast milk. She and I had to change our clothes three times. Then the fever started. It only got as high as 101.8, but I could tell she was MISERABLE! I hate it when my babies are sick. She was just pathetic and weak and burning hot; however through it all my little trooper could still manage a smile. I couldn't do anything to make her feel better except just hold her and caress her hot little face and whisper I love you. Somehow though I could tell it made her feel better. The power of a mother's love....made me think of God's love.

It's just like that. Sometimes He can't do anything to make it all better. For Him it's not because he isn't capable of making our situation better, it's because He cannot choose to do what would not be right and good and just. So when we're wallowing in the just consequences of sinful choices or when we are suffering through the "testing of our faith" He's just there, holding us, caressing our hot little faces and whispering I love you.

My new goal now is to be more like Hannah. Being in her Momma's arms didn't make her situation any better, she was still hot and miserable and achy and vomiting, but she was just glad that at least if she had to be miserable she didn't have to go it alone. She was grateful just for her Momma's arms.

Lord, help me to be grateful for my Daddy's arms. Help me to remember that what I am going through is for your glory, might be caused by my own choices, could be Satan trying to gain a victory through me, After I remember that help me to stop wishing away my pain and just be grateful that I don't have to go it alone, grateful that if I have to be miserable and broke and tired that I have my Father's arms around me holding me and whispering, I love you.

May God hold you today. May He whisper, shout or scream, "I LOVE YOU! May you never, ever forget that you are not alone!

A word of encouragement from the past...

I submitted queries to 3 different literary agents today. I decided to then get started cleaning up some more of my manuscript. In doing that I stumbled upon this blog. It took my breath away because it is as if August of 2006 Jami is speaking DIRECTLY to July of 2009 Jami. For those of you who know the details of today's disappointment, I think it will take your breath away too. I hope it ministers to you, wherever you are at today as much as it ministered to me.

written on August 2, 2006...

You know people CONSTANTLY say to me, "I don't know how you do it Jami." They're referring to the fact that I have four children (who are beautiful and sweet, but AMAZINGLY "precocious"), I work 20 - 30 hours per week from my home (while watching said children), I coach the (amazing and incredibly talented) FHS cheerleaders, and I teach fitness classes. I always tell them that I just love my life, and I love to keep busy. The truth is I love everything in my life so much: my husband, my children, my cheerleaders, cheerleading itself, working out, that I'd rather work myself into the ground than give any of it up. However, the past two weeks or so, I myself have been thinking, "I don't know how you do it Jami."

I am so past exhausted! Having all four of the kiddos at home is just killing me. If I leave them upstairs so I can get in some work, they just get into trouble. A few weeks ago Noah used up all of my Victoria's Secret body spray. I asked him what he used it for, "knockout gas" was the answer. He was playing Splinter Cell and the sprays were his knockout gas. So while I really don't like to wish time away, I am ANXIOUSLY anticipating the beginning of school this year.

Not only that but summer is just SUCH a crazy time. I think we've had only two weekends this whole summer when we didn't have something planned: weddings, graduations, cheer camps, family reunions, class reunions, church picnics.....our summer has been FULL.

Add to it the fact that I have a newborn; however, in all honesty she is the LEAST of my problems. Hannah is SERIOUSLY and HONESTLY the best baby in the world. For the past three and a half weeks, she has been sleeping through the night. She sleeps about 10 hours EVERY night! She's an absolute dream. I figure though that with all the broken toilets, perfume used as knockout gas, bald spots cut in hair, and urinating in places that are NOT the toilet, I deserve at least one easy one right now. There are short skirts and midriff-baring tops that she will undoubtedly torture me with later, so I'm glorying in the angelic season of her life now. I digress....so the point of this is I'm barely making it.

I'm at the end of myself, but gratefully I'm finding that, as in all things, in the midst of my self-induced insanity, God's Grace is enough to see me through. Right now that is all that's getting me through. That and the knowledge that before I know it we'll be in the throes of fall. Summer's craziness will have given way to my FAVORITE season: it will be time for cool, crisp air, sweaters, trips to the apple orchard, new school outfits and lunchboxes, football games, and pumpkins....they are all on the horizon. So if I can just hold on a little longer. If I can just make it through the sweltering heat, a class and a family reunion, if I can just keep the boys from burning down the house, I will make it to the promised land - FALL.

Now I know this is getting kinda long, but I can't end without a plug for my amazing Lord and Savior...this is true of all of life. I know things get tough. Life can really suck at times. But if we can just make it through the heartbreaks of this life, through the broken marriages, Leukemia, financial hardships, and other tragedies, we will make it to the promised land – HEAVEN! Where we'll be done crying and hurting and wailing. There will be nothing but joy, peace, and praising our Lord and Savior.

So hang on if your life is tough. Mine is too right now. Take the time today to thank God for the joy in your life...there is always some joy, even if it's hard to find. Mine isn't hard to find at all...in spite of my troubles and strain I am filled to capacity with joyful things: John, Noah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Hannah, Amanda, Amber, Alex, my mom, my dad, Jodi, Cori, Seth, Shawn, Alyssa, Luke, Savana, Grammas Hilly and Haugh, Shannon, Christina, Tracey, Nicole, Angie, Danielle, Megan, Whitney, Marki, Kayla, Cassie, Brittany, Vicky, Carol, Theresa, everyone of my myspace friends, all of my former middle schoolers, my amazing church, my God-filled pastor, my Jesus, my Jesus, my Jesus. Then after you thank Him, just hang on through your troubles, because before we know it, this hard world will be behind us and we'll be walking the streets of gold, praising our Savior for all eternity.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Miracle update....

I keep meaning to write an eloquent piece on this, complete with a spiritual application, but I am soooooo swamped today! My work is pouring in (PRAISE THE LORD!). My dear friend lost her mother last night to a motorcycle accident. I feel as if I have things swirling all about my head and I'm not sure which to attend to first. Christina has taken FULL priority today and my need to obsessively check in on her has taken complete precedence. But I know so many are waiting for news on how it went at the house yesterday. So here it is: cut and pasted from the e-mail I sent my family late last night. It isn't very eloquent and there isn't a spiritual application, but here's the dirt:

It went VERY well today. The house is in some ways much better than we had anticipated and in some ways not as nice as we had anticipated.

For example:

MUCH better
*the tile in the kitchen is MUCH better than we could tell from the picture
*there is a 4th room in the basement which has a HUMONGOUS closet attached to it
*there is soooooo much storage room: closets tucked away everywhere, 5 garages worth of space, a GREAT mudroom

Not as nice
*the garden I saw in the backyard was not on “our” property it was the neighbors
*the washer & dryer hookup is in the main level bathroom; that was a little weird
*I was walking up the stairs onto the deck and the stairway broke off and fell away. The owner will fix that but it was NOT cool.

However, overall we are still VERY much in like with this house. We are talking about renting it on or around 8/1 and later figuring out the details of the rent-to-own contract. This will involve a portion of our rent being applied to our down payment after our 2-year lease ends. That fact alone makes it such a wise move for us, as right now every penny we pay in rent results in NO return on our money. Also since we will not be tied into buying at the end of 2 years, if it is a HORRIBLE place we just choose not to buy it. This would kinda be like a rental move with a GREAT option at the end of the lease… apply some of the money we’ve paid in rent to a down payment and buy the place.

So where we stand right now: the owner is sending us an application so we can get a lease agreement nailed down. Then we are going to be in a FLURRY to get packed up and out of this place in just about 7 weeks! Please keep on praying. This pretty much seems like a no-brainer… almost no commitment from us (other than renting for the next 2 years) and TONS of benefits should this house turn out to be the place we want to purchase. So now please just pray for all of the things we have to get done in the next 7 weeks. As you all know, John and I both have little to NO free time…. But effective immediately we have to start cleaning up, throwing out and packing up… AHHHHHHH! All for a GREAT result though… taking one more step in the direction of becoming homeowners.

Oh and for all those who expressed worries about us moving so “far away”…. tonight we made it home in 55 minutes flat! Door-to-door!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Poised on the threshold of a miracle....

It started a few months ago. John said to me one day, “Do you realize that we have put $80,000 into renting this place?” I had never really thought of it that way. I love my house. I love its location. We have NO way to qualify for the purchase of a home. So I never really batted an eye at the almost $1,000 rent check we’ve written every month for the past 7 years and 5 months. As the bile rose up in my throat, I decided to start petitioning God for a miracle. I wrote on my prayer list (right next to secondary form of transportation), “house.” I shared this with John who was not very optimistic. He said, “Jami do NOT get your hopes up. There is NO way we are going to be able to buy a house.” I threw back at him the words of one of our favorite movies, “Tell me Coach Taylor. What’s impossible with God?” I then proceeded to pray.

Fast forward about one month, I started the process of reconnecting with a former cheerleader. She lives far away in butt-nowhere Wisconsin, so the first time we met, we picked a place halfway between and planned a play date. Our children played well together, so we decided to see if our hubbies played well together too. We planned to get together on Memorial Day, and the fateful decision was made to meet at their house.

Driving out to Iron Ridge, WI dredged up old memories in our hearts. This was where our old church was. It is the setting for all of our fantasies about our “dream house.” Our Memorial Day celebration at Borkenhagen Manor (yes their house is impressive enough to deserve this title) was AMAZING! It was love at first sight for our husbands and our first born children. We didn’t referee one fight, and we spent over eight hours together just enjoying ourselves.

At some point we began joking about buying the property across the street from them. Ben and Stacey informed us not only was it for sale, but it had been vacant for over a year. The very next weekend found us back at Borkenhagen Manor. The “boys” (the big boys that is) went fishing and the women did what women do, minded the house and the children. Inevitably the jokes about the house across the street came up again, “It would be SO much more convenient if you just lived across the street.” On this occasion, we decided to take our pipe dream a little further by walking across the street, circling the house and peeking in the windows. It was no dream house, but it was WAY far above anything we could even conceive of purchasing. It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch with a finished exposed basement. The house sits on nearly 2 acres of land. (click here for photos)

We never really prayed for this specific house. I plugged along praying faithfully that God would give this family a home so we could start making an investment instead of throwing our money away on rent without really picturing this one in my head. Well this week at almost the exact same moment, John and I independently came to the exact same conclusion, “We should contact the seller and see if he would consider a rent-to-own situation.” We reasoned the house has been on the market and vacant for so long with hardly a bite, maybe the owner was getting antsy and would consider such a situation.

Right now we are poised on the threshold of a miracle. We are praying HARD that God will lead and direct us. I do not know how to explain the mixture of excitement and apprehension inside of me. Here’s how I put it, “I asked God to give us a house, but I didn’t expect Him to really do it.” This coming weekend we are meeting with the owner to see the inside of the house and discuss a rent-to-own contract.

It went down something like this: Monday we sent an e-mail to the realtor who is listing the house asking if a rent-to-own situation would be considered. We heard nothing all week. Friday Stacey sent me a text that said, “Do you think it would help if we talked to the owner? He is over there cutting the grass right now.” I said, “Couldn’t hurt.” She sent Ben over to talk to him, and he returned with good news. The owner was getting very anxious. He told Ben he is NOT looking forward to paying two mortgages through another winter. He said he is very interested and could Ben pass his number along to us. John contacted him directly, and there was more good news. The monthly amount he is considering is between $150 less to just $50 more than our current rent. What?!?! We thought. We might get into this house for LESS that we currently pay in rent?!?!?! Tonight we timed the drive from our possible new house to the new venue for New Day Church. It is just 53 minutes! That was, for us, another hurdle cleared.

Besides spending this coming week in almost constant prayer, we are researching rent-to-own agreements and land contracts. Please, please, please keep the Kastners (especially John and I) in your prayers. We desperately desire only God’s will. We have always believed that the first step to building wealth is home ownership; however, we have always felt left out of that blessing because of our terrible financial condition. This place we are standing in is both terrifying and awe-inspiring. Initially we were keeping this crazy situation “close to our coats.” We are such unlikely candidates for a miracle such as this. It is still just such a pipe dream. However, the closer we get, and the more it seems like it might actually be a possibility, we are desperately coveting prayer.

We are not asking that you pray we get this house. We are asking that you pray God closes the doors He wants closed and opens the doors He wants open. Finally, pray that we will have the courage to walk through whatever doors God opens up.

Thank you so much, and I promise to keep you updated.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And so it begins....

“Noah has a girlfriend. Noah has a girlfriend.” My children have been singing this refrain for about two weeks now. It is actually an adorable, terrifying, wonderful situation. We recently reconnected with one of my former cheerleaders, and our entire family fell in love. She and I always loved each other so that was not really a surprise. Our husbands hit it off great. Our children play well together and seem to really enjoy themselves when we are together. Which brings us to Noah…. Noah is very smitten with their little brown-haired, brown-eyed beauty. Yesterday, when he was out with John, he said, “Daddy, my heart hurts cuz I miss Allisa.” The entire situation is such a potpourri of mixed emotions for me.

It really is quite adorable: the dreamy look he gets on his face when he sees the ubber cute picture of the two of them and the way she skipped out to the car when we got there on Saturday so excited to see us she was bouncing. They are like a photo come to life. You know the photos I am talking about don’t you? Those adorable black and white photos where the little girl's ribbon and the flower the boy is giving her are the only parts in color. You know those right? Guess what? For the moms of the little black and white photos, it’s not just, “Awwww how adorable.” It is a little terrifying too.

My baby has a crush! He could get his heart broken or this could be the real thing. Seriously I am not trying to make too much of this, but I have a friend who has known her husband forever. She told me once that she still remembers when she was in Kindergarten (I think), she was all stressed out because she had to hold Dan Kallas’s hand in a program at church. Guess what??? She’s now Mrs. Dan Kallas. The thought that my child is entering this world where a beautiful little girl has the power to crush him or make him walk on air makes me want to vomit!

I have actually had the benefit of watching many, many, many others deal with the difficult parenting situation of romance. As a teacher and youth leader for junior high aged kids, I saw a lot of puppy love. I also saw a lot of parental reactions to puppy love. They ranged everywhere from flat out refusal to even consider their child “going out” with someone and forbidding them to be attracted to anyone until they were ____ years old, all the way through to matchmaking parents goading their child on to catch a “good one.” I have long wondered how I would tackle this problem when I finally came face-to-face with it, and now here I am staring it right in the adorable little brown eyes.

Because I do not like for anything in my life to be in vain, I have decided to take full advantage of this situation. I have decided to not waste time worrying or fretting about my son’s heart being broken (or stolen away), but instead to take full advantage of the chance to lead him through such a situation from a godly perspective. Even at the tender age of 9 ½ there are VERY valuable lessons he can learn about being a godly man and treating a woman the way God would want him too. I am thinking that NOW when he is moldable and so open to my opinion on things is the PERFECT time to lead him through this practice run of boy-girl relationships. Here are the lessons we’ve tackled so far:

  1. Put Jesus first – The day after his “love at first sight experience,” I had a little chat with him. I asked him, “Did you and Allisa talk about Jesus at all?” He mentioned some Bible verses all the kids talked about. Putting God first, that is what I want him to do in all of his relationships and all of his life. Therefore, the first thing I focused on and the first seed I wanted to plant in his head was Jesus.

  2. Put the other person’s needs before yours – This past weekend when we were together all the boys were inside playing video games, and Allisa was out on the deck by herself bored. I went up to Noah and encouraged him to go play with her. He wanted to play video games so badly, but I told him, “Noah, a good friend thinks about what the other person wants too. Allisa is all by herself and bored out of her skull. You can play video games at home.” He faced the struggle many men before him have been defeated by – TV vs. woman – and came out like a champ! Within minutes he and Allisa were running in the backyard playing on the swing set.
No worries though! No one is picking out china patterns or flowers yet (although we do have some UBBER cute pictures which would fit perfectly in a wedding slide show). But I am actually VERY at peace with the way we have chosen to handle this, and I am actually grateful God is giving us this chance to learn these life lessons. Even still I am still holding my breath a little, and daily begging God to give me strength for what lies ahead in the not too distant future: the teenage years. Oh Lord! Hold me TIGHT!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...