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

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

Sometimes I get scared....

I awoke wedged between John and a naked Hannah with Elijah's foot shoved squarely in the place I use to expel waste from my body. Hannah had obviously had an accident for she was in my bed naked with a towel wrapped around her. Elijah is like a stealth bomber, because earlier in the night he had tried to invade the sanctity of my bed, but I awoke and sent him back to his own domain. This time he presented a sneakier attack, entering at the foot of the bed and placing his head there. Hence the foot in my "private area." I tried to fall back to sleep. Honestly I did. But I couldn't stop thinking about Hannah's bare butt on my JUST-cleaned-and-dried-on-the-line-in-the-crisp-fall-air sheets. When I tried to crowd that thought out (trusting that she had peed the bed once in their room she wouldn't pee again in mine) then other thoughts of bills and CT scans and Internet outages which resulted in work not being completed began to crowd in.

Finally, I extricated myself from the narrow slice of bed I had been allotted. After stumbling down the hallway to retrieve a Pull-up, I took care of problem number one: Hannah's bare butt. Then I proceeded to the living room with the laptop and spent some time with Pieces of Flair on Facebook. Finally, realizing that none of this was wedging out the gloom and doom thoughts attacking me, I logged onto Netflix and BAWLED like a baby over Friday Night Lights (why DOES everyone leave Matt Saracen?!?!?! He is a GOOD kid! He takes care of his gramma, stays in school, holds down a job, and he is QB One!!!!) Finally it was 5 a.m. and the day could start, I climbed in the shower and the tears came. That's when I realized: sometimes I'm tired, sometimes I'm weak, and sometimes I'm scared.

Sometimes I'm tired. I don't want to get up and start working at the crack of dawn in order to be able to start teaching the kids when they wake up and to pick up other people's dirty underwear and do ONE MORE load of laundry! I don't want to sleep wedged between two people I love with the foot of a third person I love shoved up into my woohoo. I don't want to be sleep deprived and exercise deprived and free-time deprived! I miss sleeping. I miss working out. I miss lying in a tanning bed. I miss reading a book. Sometimes I am just T-I-R-E-D!

Sometimes I'm weak. Guess what? I am NOT a woman's lib-er. I do not WANT to be "woman hear me roar." I feel no need to prove that I can do everything a boy can do.... better. I have no problem with the division of labor around my normal house. I have no problem admitting there are things John can do that I can't do.... that I have NO desire to do. I have no desire to be the one knocking down wasp hives and rewiring the Internet connection and dealing with water leaks. I don't want to lie in bed at night hearing the normal night noises and knowing that if an abnormal noise occurs, I have to deal with it myself. Sometimes I'm weak.

Sometimes I'm scared. I'm scared about our finances. Yes God is taking care of our needs day-by-day. We have food in the house right now and our rent has been paid this month. I think I have enough to cover the energy bill and I'll probably be able to pay the cable and cell phones this month, but what about when the medical bills start flooding in? What about when John goes back to work but has to pay back all the insurance premiums he owes? What about when he can only return to one job until he's strong enough for two (one job doesn't pay our bills) and what about if he loses that second job because it is not protected by FMLA? Sometimes I'm scared.

I find myself here at the end of a VERY grueling summer. I have been pushed and prodded, molded and shaped, purified and tested beyond ANYTHING I have ever faced before. I am tired. I am weak. I am scared. But I am also SURE.... sure that my God is bigger than my exhaustion... sure that my God is bigger than my weakness.... sure that my God is bigger than my fear.... sure that there WILL be beauty from my pain.

At the risk of becoming redundant, I must again defer to the wisdom and majesty of the theology of the great band Superchick. This song of theirs is one of my favorites. It haunts my soul. It is poignant. It is gut-wrenchingly real. It is a balm to my soul. Hope you enjoy.

Beauty from Pain

The lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know I'm alive
But I feel like I died
And all that's left is to accept that it's over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that I made
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder
I feel like I'm slipping away

After all this has passed
I still will remain
After I've cried my last
There'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today
Someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though I can't understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how you've brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

After all this has passed
I still will remain
After I've cried my last
There'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today
Someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Here I am at the end of me
Trying to hold to what I can't see
I forgot how to hope
This night's been so long
I cling to your promise
There will be a dawn

After all this has passed
I still will remain
After I've cried my last
There'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today
Someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain
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