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.
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