Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Worship Wednesday: Carol of the Bells

Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells
All seem to say throw cares away
Christmas is here, bringing good cheer
To young and old, meek and the bold

Ding-dong, ding-dong, that is their song
With joyful ring, all caroling
One seems to hear, words of good cheer
From everywhere, filling the air

Gaily they ring, while people sing
Songs of good cheer, Christmas is here
Merry merry merry merry Christmas
Merry merry merry merry Christmas
On and on they send, on without end
Their joyful tone to every home
Ding-dong ding-dong, ding-dong ding-dong
Ding-dong ding-dong, ding-dong ding-dong

Meh... I know this one is not very spiritual, but today, THIS day, I need to hear, "Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells; All seem to say THROW CARES AWAY"  over and over and OVER again!

My days before vacation are going out like a LION!  I am stressed!  Trying to work... the kids let the dog out... didn't listen to me about how to get her back... I had to race out in my pajamas and robe to try to catch her... couldn't get the minivan back up the driveway... foot is ice cold from being in a snow bank... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  "THROW CARES AWAY!!!!!!  THROW CARES AWAY!!!!!"    My silver bells are screaming, "ONE MORE DAY JAMI! ONE MORE DAY!"

So anywhoos... there is my not very spiritual Worship Wednesday, but WAIT!  I think I just got my spiritual application!!!!

Throw your cares away!  Don't just be "merry" this Christmas but throw your cares away!  Because this isn't just about snow and lighted trees and presents!  The light of the world came to SAVE OUR SOULS!  How can ANY of our cares matter in light of that truth???

Hope you all have a BLESSED Christmas!  I literally have at least three blogs backed up in my heart, but I just have NOT had time to write about them lately.  Hopefully on my vaca I will find time to get them up here.

God bless!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Sacred Marriage:  What if God designed marriage to make us holy instead of happy?  Gary Thomas

Haven't read this book yet, but OH how its title has been rocking my world!  On Wednesday, my friend Terri posted this in her FB status.  It has been echoing through my soul ever since, and of course part of why it has been on my mind is that John and I have been negotiating a mine field of struggles recently... and not without stepping on a few mines.

I have always known I would find more success working to make my spouse happy then fighting to get him to make me happy.  But WHAT IF... WHAT IF it isn't about happiness AT ALL???  You know as earth shaking as that question was to me, really it should not have been.  I have long believed and loudly touted, "God cares more about your character than your comfort."  Really that is what this marriage thesis is saying.  That being comfortable (happy) is not as important as building character (holiness).

We can BE happy in a marriage, but I think the point it that happiness comes as a byproduct.  The true goal of every single part of our life is HOLINESS.  Tough to swallow???  A little bit.  Make sense??? A LOT!  Marriage is HARD.  It takes humility and fortitude like I've never exhibited before.  I have to be SOFT and PLIABLE in my compromising with this man but SOLID and UNBUDGING in my commitment to him.  It makes a lot of sense that this thing called marriage is about HOLINESS.    

Now before you go run and grab your spouse and make him/her read this because HE/SHE need to be holier... WAIT!  You need to read this too.  YOU!  It is YOU who clicked on this link!  It is YOU who God is speaking to right now!  Even if what your spouse has done is WRONG... flat out completely and totally WRONG... SINFUL...  guess what?  There is still holiness for you to achieve.  Turn the other cheek... Speak the truth IN LOVE... If you are a part of it, you have a part in it.  So pursue YOUR holiness and let God worry about your spouse's holiness.  That is what God has been speaking (FINE!  SHOUTING!) to me recently.  "KEEP YOUR NOSE OUT OF JOHN'S BUSINESS, JAMI!"  GOD SAYS.  "WORRY ABOUT YOUR OWN IMPERFECTIONS!  PURSUE YOUR OWN HOLINESS!"

So that's what I'm gonna do.  I hope you will too.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Worship Wednesday: Breath of Heaven

I only get to hear this song around Christmas... You know because it's "Mary's Song" and all.  But it grabs me ANYtime of the year.  The story of a faithful servant following God's direction when all those around think that servant is nuts.  The tale of someone KNOWING God spoke, having NO proof but his/her own certainty.  The wonder of the courage of standing against ALL:  friends, family, loved ones, those secular, AND fellow believers, who just don't GET what God has spoken, partially because they didn't hear it and partially because the message from God was so stinking LOONY!  That storyline SPEAKS to me:  Noah building the Ark, Abraham placing his only son on the altar, the virgin with child, the disciple walking on water....

As one who loves God deeply and tries HARD to follow His voice NO MATTER WHAT, I too have been in that place.  The place of KNOWING that God wanted me to do something and FEARING what others would think.  That predicament of KNOWING that I had NO good reason for what I was doing and that "God told me to" sounded so weak.  That terrifying, tumultuous, crazy place of PEACE.  Somehow experiencing BOTH the storm of uncertainty and at the same time the CALM of peace.

That's why I <3 this song!  Because I can SCREAM along with it, "Breath of Heaven, hold me together; Be forever near me, breath of Heaven; Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness....."  But my favorite part.... It is so poignant... it is:

Help me be strong...
Help me be...
Help ME...

Love it!  Love it!  LOVE it!

Whatever God is telling you to do today, no matter how crazy, take heart!  If God is asking you to do something off-the-wall, you are in GOOD company.  You're standing beside Noah, Abraham, Mary, Peter and so MANY more!  Take heart.  Have faith.  But most importantly let Him "hold you together."

Merry Christmas everyone!

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I've done
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen me now to carry Your Son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong, help me be, help me

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven, breath of Heaven, Breath of Heaven

Quick Update and a nugget of inspiration...

Mention was made at John's appointment (I am still awaiting contact from the Dr.'s office so I can get my answers "straight from the horses mouth.")  About the possibility that medication caused (or intensified) the problems John faced which took him to the hospital last month.  Therefore, John is on a mission to eliminate all pain meds from his life.  He dropped them cold turkey (but is still taking anti-inflamtory med and muscle relaxers).  So far not so bad... please pray for him in this endeavor.

My doggie has me thinking lately... All the snow combined with the bitterly cold tempeartures are making "doing her duty" not so fun for her.  She races out into the harsh world to "take care of business" and then zooms back to the warmth and comfort of her home.  Jaunts through the neighboring farm are the furthest thing from her mind.  She goes out into the icky world only for what she HAS to do.  Then she basks in the warmth of her family, her home.

Shouldn't we be like that?  Shouldn't all the sin and ICK of this work make "doing our duty" out there not so fun?  Shouldn't we race out into the harsh world to "take care of business" and then zoom back to the warmth and comfort of our Father's presence?  So often during this season, time with God, spiritual endeavors take a back seat to working, shopping, wrapping, etc...  Those "jaunts through the neighboring farm" pull us away from God.  Doncha wanna just get back to basking in the warmth of His presence?

I do.

[Worship Wednesday later in the day... I promise!]

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My baby is BACK!

Hey la, Hey la my BLOG is back!!!!!

I logged on this morning and gave it a shot.... "" I typed into my Internet address bar.  I hit enter and held my breath...  and there it was.... the welcome site of that plain white background, the orange of the blog post title popping out at me.... my life as a lesson is BACK!

You know SO many things transpired over the 36 hours when my blog was gone.  (I posted the update e-mail I sent via e-mail in case there are people who are not on my blog update distribution list.)  But here is what I'm pondering the most this morning, "What am I supposed to learn from the disappearance of my blog?"  (You know I don't believe in coincidences, right???)  I'm wondering if I have become too dependent upon this blog, my "free therapy."  I'm wondering if maybe God is asking me to "shut my mouth (blog)" and stop being so exposed and "out there" for a time (or forever).  Maybe it is time to close the doors of my life as a lesson and put my clothes back on (Bare Naked Honesty)?

I haven't come to any conclusions yet.  I'm still listening for His whisper.  I'll keep you posted, but for now:

Hey la, Hey la my BLOG is BACK!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Well I'm not sure what to even say.  The pessimist and optimist are warring inside me.  Maybe I will try channeling the realist in me and just lay it all out there exactly as it went down... 

John went to the doctor appointment alone today.  I wanted to go with, but it is so cold, and I didn't want to drag 4 kids and an old lady out into the frigid temps.  (I made the WRONG choice.)

I sent John with SPECIFIC instructions.  Lists of questions.  Medications to refill.  And a CLEAR directive to CALL ME so I could listen in on the appointment.  He didn't call.  For the life of me I cannot explain why.  He said there was nothing to report.  I said he couldn't have known that until AFTER the appointment.  For any of you who really KNOW John, you know that he does what HE wishes regardless of ANYONE else’s feelings or wishes.

According to John's report, the Doctor came in, tested his strength, said, “Merry Christmas.. see you in February,” and left.  He said the Nurse (or PA) who came in first told him:

The "lesion" was actually the same spot they found on his brain last year (last year they referred to it as an aneurysm not a lesion).  He had an angiogram of his brain before the Chiari Malformation surgery,  and the doctor’s decided to do nothing about this aneurysm.  The doctor (according to John) could not provide a reason for why he was in the ICU a few weeks ago.  They said it was precautionary and none of the tests revealed anything out of the ordinary.   

The optimist in me is screaming, “HALLELUJAH!  There's nothing wrong with him.”  The pessimist in me is muttering, “Darn doctor’s don’t know their heads from a hole in the ground!”  The realist in me just wants to kick John in the crotch for not calling me and letting me hear this report for myself. 
Since I'm currently channeling my inner realist don't be surprised if John is "singing soprano" for the next few days.

As always thanks for holding us tight in your prayers.

[Oh and My life as a lesson has still not been recovered L]

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Warm and cozy

It's 4 a.m.  I don't mean to be up.  Disturbing dreams woke me a little over an hour ago, I finally got out of bed when curiosity over the snowfall got the best of me.  At a more godly hour, this scene might be pleasant (even idyllic):  the living room bathed by the light of the Christmas tree, a yummy cup of Sleepy Time Tea to my left, and SILENCE... oh silence, my dear long lost friend how I love thee.

This snow storm is not disappointing.  At least, it isn't up here in Hubbard, WI.  We have at least 6 inches on our back deck already.  The wind is WHIPPING the snow about (in fact I can hear and feel is whistling through that irritating gap in the patio door seal.  Even felt snow coming through into my kitchen again!  GRRRR!) menacingly.  It is too dark to really view the situation, but I know it is NOT good. The DOT is advising drivers to stay off the roads.  Anyone who doesn't HAVE to travel, shouldn't. It's pretty dangerous out there:  icky, cold, snowy.  Yet in here I am snug as a bug:  warm and cozy, tea at my side, therapy tool in my lap.  I LOVE IT!

It draws my thoughts to Him you know.  How the storms of life can rage!  How the wind can whip!  How the snow can blanket the earth!  In storms like these, visibility is reducing to nothing, traction is a distant hope.  We slip and we slide, unable to see the path before us.  Yet there is a shelter, a warm and cozy "home," a place where we are safe when the storms of life rage .  His loving embrace is that place.  With His arms around us, we are warm and cozy.  We can still hear the storms of life raging.  The wind still whips.  The snow still falls.  At some point, we will likely have to clean up the damage the storm is wreaking.  Yet when the storm is too severe, when the roads have been deemed impassable, all we have to do is snuggle up tight in the warmth of God's love and wait out the worst part, warm and cozy.

His embrace doesn't make the storm go away.  God's sovereignty won't keep the snow from piling up.  His great power isn't always for stopping the winds.  Sometimes He DOES calm the storm raging around us, but SOMETIMES He just offers us refuge from the elements.  A warm and cozy place of comfort that gets us THROUGH the storm.

Comfy and toasty in my little refuge....  Hope you're staying safe, warm and cozy too.  God bless!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The devil

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  
Ephesians 6:1

Last night as I raced into town for my sister's bowling birthday bash (it wasn't really called that.... I just made it up... Really it was our crazy family bowling, eating bar food, and singing "Happy Birthday dear Cori" as loud as we could at the local bowling alley), Noah asked a question that chilled my soul.  Before I reveal his question, let me set the stage.  These details are not those I have shared with any yet... even John will be surprised at their revelation.  

For the past two days, Satan has been attacking me HARD.  He has been whispering to my soul that I will soon be a widow.  I know with all of my heart that this is the enemy attacking me.  I know that my struggle is "against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  I know (as I recently wrote in The Gentle Leader), "If Satan can get into your head and make you worry, doubt, or fear... If you give just an INCH of your brain to worry, doubt, or fear... It is over!  The worry, doubt and fear control you. "  I know that since I learned so many lessons (which I am LIBERALLY applying) the last time we went through this brain issue, (especially:  God will provide ALL our physical needs in MIRACULOUS ways) that Satan is just looking for a new way to torture me.  I know!  I know!  I know!  All of this... yet still...

Finally, yesterday  I asked just my mom, dad, and sisters if they would increase their prayers for me only hinting at the way Satan was torturing me.  Then it happened.  We were just driving down the highway, chatting about how shockingly we were going to be late to Riri's birthday party, when after a brief silence Noah asked me, "Mom, can someone die from a Chiari Malformation?"  It was as if Satan himself had punched me HARD in the gut.  I paused a second while I caught my breath, and then replied, "Hmmmm.... I don't think so."  Because I DON'T think so... Death from Chiari Malformation has never been presented as a possibility to us.  

Here's the thing:  I could have dismissed his question as nothing.  I could have reasoned it away with the reminder that just yesterday we attended a gut-wrenching funeral for a six-month old baby.  I could have just told myself it was a coincidence.  However, here's the thing, I don't believe in coincidence.

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

I believe in the devil.  I believe he is a WICKEDLY smart being.  I believe he wants to destroy me.  I believe this not just because the Bible says it, but also because I have stared him in the VILE face before.  I have felt his sickening breath on my cheek.  I have HEARD his vicious words hurled at me in attack.  I know that "the devil prowls around like a ROARING LION looking for someone to DEVOUR."  (emphasis mine)  

When I heard those words from my baby's mouth, I knew the attack was being taken to a higher level.  Now the worries weren't just clanging around in my own brain.  They were out there ALOUD!  And they were in my child's brain as well.  I immediately cried out to Jesus.  

"Help me Lord!  I can't fight this anymore!"  my heart screamed out. 

Reveal it my child, was His gentle answer.  

"Reveal it???  Are you CRAZY!  I can't reveal THIS!  People will think I'm nuts because I believe in the devil.  People will judge me for fearing my husband will die.  My husband doesn't need to hear I'm afraid of this!"  I screamed from my heart.

Reveal it my child, He gently repeated.

I wanted to fight some more.  I wanted to rail against it.  However, I have known ALL too well the ill-effects of sweeping Satan's attacks "under the carpet."  See what happens when you do that is they get bigger and bigger until they devour you.  See that's what he wants.  He wants us to try to fight Him alone.  He doesn't want to be exposed!  

So guess what???  Anything Satan wants, I'm gonna do the opposite.  I'm exposing that slimy little liar.  I am putting it out there:  I am afraid that John is going to die and leave me all alone.  Truth be told I have been fighting this battle since the moment I received that first call, "John said he feels like when he had that stroke-thing."  I need you to pray for me!  I need help fighting back the enemy because he is NOT giving up.  

One last comment... it is with regards to my fear that "People will think I'm nuts because I believe in the devil."  Here it is... It is not even my words.

It is the greatest art of the devil to convince us he does not exist.
Charles Baudelaire

He is real.  He does exist.  But unfortunately for him, his existence doesn't mean squat up against the power of our God.  So please pray.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Real quick:

We are basically in somewhat of a holding pattern right now.  We really don't know anything new.

***John had that ambulatory 24-hour EEG on Monday (to Tuesday).  [He also had another 'episode' like what happened on 11/19, but it was SHORT lived, and we did not have to go to the hospital for it.]

***We have an appointment Monday with Dr. Ahuja [It is actually a follow-up appointment scheduled back in October when Dr. Ahuja told John, "When you come in December that will probably be your last appointment with me."  Famous last words I guess.]

***John is feeling okay and is working.  However, he is NOT up to full speed.  We are trying our hardest to adapt, but a few things have fallen through the cracks.

Verse for today:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Worship Wednesday: Mary Did You Know?

Last night we watched the Passion of Christ.  Actually, I tried hard NOT to watch it.  I am just WAY too sensitive for that movie!  Even ignoring the subtitles and concentrating on my crocheting with the movie only as background noise, I bawled like a baby.  What my Lord went through for me!  The horror He suffered!  The pain of his earthly mother!  They are TOO much for me to bear!

I kept thinking about the glory set before Him.  Yet, even for the glory set before Him, I could not stop BAWLING over the horror He endured.  As a mother I am always especially hard hit by the focus on Mary.  How could she watch them do that to the Child who came from her womb?!?!  Yet I'm sure she never even entertained the idea of leaving her Child in His toughest hour.

My thoughts turned towards this song.  It has always haunted my soul.  How much of the PLAN did God reveal to Mary?  What did God reveal to her soul?  She knew her womb carried the child of God, yet....  The miracle of the blind seeing?  The horror of the cross?  These details....  What did she know???  When did she know???

It reminded me that we OFTEN do not know.  The wonder of a generous gift...  The uncertainty of a sudden relapse... These details....  We never know they are coming.  But here is the GLORIOUS part!  (...for Mary and for us...)  Mary did not HAVE to know.  As glorious as the beginning of His life was...  As gut wrenching as the end was...  Mary did not HAVE to know!  God knew.  He knew and He would give her the strength to endure.  He knows and He will give us the strength to endure!

Whatever this day brings, do NOT forget He knows!  He knows.

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know,
that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered,
will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know
your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know,
that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby,
you've kissed the face of God.

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

Did you know,
that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding, is the great I AM.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On making it through Zumba (and life)...

I took a Zumba class once.  It was part of a staff development thing going on at the WAC when I taught there.  They wanted us to take classes we had never done or something.  I remember thinking, "I'm a former dancer.  I coach cheer.  I have taught aerobics for a zillion years.  I can do this."  I was WRONG!  More wrong than any person could ever be.  I have never in all my life felt more like I had two left feet.  In fact, I have never in my life felt like I had two left feet.  I have actually always felt quite coordinated.  But not when taking Zumba!  I remember it CLEARLY that moment where I stood there, surrounded by seventy year old ladies moving their hips in ways that I had never seen before, thinking, "I signed up for the WRONG class!  I need pre-beginner level Zumba!  or Zumba for idiots or something..... because this... THIS is WAY too hard for ME!

I feel like that every now and again in life.  I feel like I signed up for the wrong class.  I look around my life and think this is WAY too hard for me!  I canNOT do this!  I need pre-beginner level life or life for idiots!  Today it isn't really anything Mt. Everest like.  It is just a bunch of Rocky Mountains that have me feeling dwarfed and incompetent.  A $929 ambulance ride bill (which SHOULD be covered by insurance yet is nonetheless still daunting)...  The episode John had last night at my mother's birthday party (which he recovered from after just 10 minutes but nonetheless it scared the peanuts outta me).... The CHAOTIC array in the living room, the few dishes which remain from Sunday's party, the laundry piled up to my gills (which I know will ALL eventually be dealt with nonetheLESS they represent a LOT of work for me)...

I'm trying to remember how I got through that EVIL Zumba class.  I was really having a hard time following the steps.... the people all around me were distracting and the names of the steps were confusing and if I caught sight of myself in the mirror I was MORTIFIED.... instead of looking around at others or watching myself in the mirror, I just focused on the teacher, and then I think I just gutted it out, looking like a fool, and just MADE IT through.  So I guess that is what I should do here too:  focus on the Teacher... gut it out... look like a fool... and just MAKE it through....  Sometimes in life (and Zumba) you just have to make it through.... the victory is sometimes in just enduring...  you don't have to make it look pretty.... you don't have to be the best... you don't have to move your hips in unfathomable ways like those 70 year old ladies who take Zumba every day.... you just have to make it THROUGH!  And the only way to really do that is to get your focus off your circumstances and yourself, and focus in on the Teacher!

More power to all of you... I'm going to go tackle one of those Rocky Mountains now.  Hope you're having a great day!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Instant Karma

Last night we watched our most recent Netflix arrival, House Season 6 Disc 2, which (coincidentally enough) was supposed to arrive last weekend but got stuck in the USPS machines and was delayed in its arrival.  However, House doesn't believe in coincidences, and neither do I.  Granted it is for different reasons that we agree.  See I don't believe in coincidences, I believe in God's providence.  I also don't believe in "Instant Karma" I believe in God's will; however, I do believe in catchy blog titles.  So now I've babbled long enough... I'm sure you're all wondering, "Where is she GOING with this????"

As previously mentioned on this blog, the Kastner family (inspired by DFL - dear friend Lori) has embarked upon an Advent Project this year.  As a family, we talked about what this season REALLY means. What is Christmas all about?  After arriving at the conclusion that it is all about JESUS, we discussed the concept of focusing HARD during these days leading up to Christmas on honoring Jesus, on showing Him we love Him.  We have challenged ourselves, personally and as a family, to seek out ways to HONOR Him with all we do.

So last night we had to pick John up in Hartford (trusty old Buick needs brakes, tires, and HEAT).  We were stalling for time and it was approaching (and passing) dinner time. So I decided to pick up a small snack at McD's.  (Dinner was planned and waiting at home, but kids, and mom, were getting cranky from hunger NOW.) So anyways there we were sitting in the drive thru when I remember our project.  I remember Lori mentioning something about paying for the person behind her in the drive thru.  (I have ALWAYS wanted to do that!  But I am typically counting pennies, paying the lady with handfuls of change when I am at McD's.)  Well we are not rolling in the dough this Christmas; however, we are more "caught up" then we have been in a long time and I decided, "Let's do it!"  

So I presented the idea to the kids.  They were VERY enthusiastic in their answer.  As we pulled up for our turn to order, Noah said, "I'm so excited I'm trembling!"  I'm not gonna lie, I was a little scared.  What if the person behind us was taking burgers back to a houseful of people and I ended up paying thousands of dollars???  I tried to calm myself with realizations that I have A LOT of kids and even when they are allowed to "order stuff that's not on the dollar menu" we don't typically go over $40 at McDonalds.  We pulled up to the window to pay.  

After paying for our food ($5.99), I told the lady, "We would like pay for the person behind us."  

She said, "Do you know them?"

I said, "No.  We just want to do something nice for someone."

She said, "Okay, but I have to tell you, their order came to $26.04."  (Figures!  That is just the Jami-luck at work there!)

I smiled.  "That's fine," I replied.  "We just want you to tell them to 'Have a Merry Christmas.' "  

The kids were staring out the back window at the car behind us.  "They have a girl your age Noah."  Jeremiah said.

"I wish we could SEE their faces!"  Noah added.

It was such a priceless and PRECIOUS moment for us!  Well worth every penny of that HUGE order behind us :)  We were a little stymied in our getaway attempt.  This McD's was under construction, and it was dinner time and we had to weave around cars and then drive 3/4 of the way back around the building just to get out.  I fretted a little over getting caught.  So, ever the teacher (you have to be when you're a homeschooling mom), I started to instruct the kids, "Sometimes the best part of blessing someone is doing it secretly."  FINALLY with all the finesse of Maxwell Smart, we exited the parking lot.  

It was a great life lesson for my children.  They LOVED perpetrating a Random Act of Kindness.  However, that's not where the lesson ended for this family.  Nopes!  This time God had more.

We arrived home to find a riding lawn mower parked next to our porch.  It wasn't just ANY riding lawn mower.  It was the riding lawn mower we had borrowed all summer.  (I tried to find something in my blog about this but I can't.  REALLY!?!?!?  Did I REALLY not blog at ALL about the fact that our neighbors down the street saw us trying to push mow our 2 acres and offered to let us borrow their riding mower, "Any time... As long as you need to..."  How is that POSSIBLE!?!?!  It was one of the GREATEST blessings in the history of blessings!  Regardless, all summer long we had been borrowing this mower.)  As we pulled up next to it, we saw a bunch of stuff on the seat.  John climbed out of the van and checked it out.  It was an owner's manual, cables...  Could it be?  NO!  There's no way!!!  John said, "It looks like they are giving this to us."  We were dumbfounded.

Well he drove down the cul de sac and had a chat with our neighbors and SURE ENOUGH!  They gave us this lawn mower!  The man told John that from the first time we borrowed the mower, God had laid it upon his heart that it would be ours.  All summer long, he planned that come Christmas he would give us this mower.  He said he drove it up to his house, all decked out in his Santa hat, but we weren't home.  What an INCREDIBLE blessing!  How AMAZ-ZUH-ZING!  

Now please do NOT get me wrong.  The purpose of our blessing that stranger at McDonald's was BLESSING SOMEONE!  We had NO hidden agenda.  We did NOT expect (or even necessarily want) to be blessed back for it.  Just the joy of surprising someone unexpectedly like that was enough for us!  Yet still I was VERY grateful.  Not just for the AMAZING, nearly brand new lawn mower that is now parked in our garage, but mostly for the lessons my children had learned this day.  So many their heads were spinning:  

*it's a GREAT thing to give
*giving anonymously and surprisingly is an adventure
*honoring Jesus is not only the right thing to do it is SOOOOO exciting
*when you obey God irregardless of the consequences ($26.04 McDonalds bill behind us) He takes CARE of you (riding lawn mower - Merry Christmas!)

So today instead of just inspiration blanketed in a mumbo jumbo of words, I am also presenting you with a challenge.... a dare of sorts...

Dare to do something EXTRAVAGANT for someone today.  Just for the SOLE purpose of blessing them.  It doesn't have to be monetary!  Answer a grumpy person with an encouraging word.  Offer to help a coworker with their workload.  Stop to help a busy mother load her groceries into her van.  Do it because it is good Karma :)  Do it because it honors Jesus.  Do it because it is the RIGHT, KIND, Christmassy thing to do.  But don't be surprised if it comes RIGHT back to you with lightening speed.

Have a GREAT day everyone!  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Worship Wednesday: O Holy Night

I decided that this month, Worship Wednesdays should be about Christmas Carols!  How fun hey?  I am starting this my new directive with my FAVORITE Christmas Carol of all time....

Not going to really say much...  Today worship is enough.  The only thing I will say is:

THIS is what this season is all about:  the holy, HOLY night when Christ came to earth to live and then die and finally to rise again all for the purpose of saving a sinner like me!

I read a GREAT blog this morning from my friend (the now famous) Lori...  The Kastner's are going to focus more on what this season is REALLY about by starting an Advent Project today too... Thanks for the inspiration Lori!]

Now stop reading my words and focus in on these!

O Holy Night

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Truly He taught us to love one another 
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we 
Let all within us praise His holy name

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Gentle Leader.....

I have a new personal trainer.  Her name is Kiah.  She is AWESOME at her job!  She has only had the job for twelve days, and  in spite of a holiday and a 2-day stay in the ICU for my hubby, I have only missed walking with Kiah ONCE!  She is an incredible motivator.  (FINE!  I will admit the real motivator:  $$$$$.  The vet told us the more she walks on asphalt the less often she will need her nails clipped.  Since we're a little nervous to clip them ourselves and I am a HUGE penny pincher, the motivation of saving money is what has me out there walking that girl nearly every day!)  And as long as we're being truthful here, I might as well also admit, I'm not walking her... SHE is walking ME.  It is actually getting a little irritating because she pulls TOO hard on me!  I mentioned this to my cousin (my resident animal expert), and she offered to bring me her Gentle Leader when she came for Thanksgiving.  Well today I used it for the first time and WOW!  She was right!  It is a WORLD of difference!

Kiah wearing her Gentle Leader
The basic idea here is:  The Gentle Leader allows me to control Kiah's head and once I control her head, I am IN CONTROL!  I wonder, do they make a Gentle Leader for children???  How about husbands???  I digress...  So this morning my walk with Kiah was nearly perfect!  (Except for the part where I realized TOO late that the dogs at the end of the cul-de-sac were out...  it took ALL my strength to get that girl turned around and I was PRAYING the whole time that the owner of the other dogs would realize what was going on as they had left their property and were slowly but LOUDLY approaching us.  YIKES!)  Other than that she walked without pulling and there was slack in the leash the ENTIRE time!  Brittany's wisdom of, "If you control the head, you control the animal." kept running through my head and it got me to thinking... then praying... any crying a little too...

I started praying, "God, please be my Gentle Leader!  I want you to control my head so that you are in control of ALL of me."  See I started to realize that this whole thing called life... A lot of it is a head game... If Satan can get into your head and make you worry, doubt, or fear... If you give just an INCH of your brain to worry, doubt, or fear... It is over!  The worry, doubt and fear control you.  However, if you give God control over every inch of your brain, peace flows in... the peace that passes all understanding.

Now according to my cousin (and she hasn't been wrong so far), after a while Kiah will get so used to the Gentle Leader not allowing her to pull that she will forget to pull without the Gentle Leader and eventually she will even walk by my side without a leash.  We'll see about that.

But, I think that happens with God too....  I think initially we might pull and tug at our Gentle Leader...  I think initially we have to surrender to Him over and over and over again.... but after awhile, we get used to it... we stop even trying to pull away towards worry, doubt and fear.  We stop even trying to leave His side when the going gets tough.  We just surrender and the peace floods in.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Update on John's brain....

Soooooo John connected with the doctor's staff this morning, and here are the details he got (please keep in mind, I was busy sleeping off the effects of a 5am Black Friday shopping trip so I did NOT get any of these details directly):

The doctor thinks the lesion (which may or may not be scar tissue) on John's brain is causing seizures.  Therefore, he wants John to have a 24-hour EEG.  (His office is MAILING us the orders for the EEG so again the lack of urgency gives me some peace regarding the severity of this issue.)  It is not clear what will be done about the lesion.  Both surgery and medicine were mentioned.

So just a few more details adding a tiny bit of clarity to the situation.  The doctor's staff has already faxed a release to MU for John to return to work on Monday.  He wanted to return to McD's today, but he is WIPED from T-giving and was not feeling up to it.

I am actually MUCH better ever since last Sunday.  I KNOW my God holds us tight in His hands!  I had a MARVELOUS conversation on Wednesday with a dear friend who just got an icky medical diagnosis of her own.  Besides hammering home over and over and over again, "Jami, God is in control!"  She also blessed me with some incredible praise that brought edification to my spirit!  God is SO very good and so COMPLETELY in control.

Please keep praying for:

*continual return of John's strength and stamina
*answers, treatments, hope to come
*continued PEACE over the occupants of this house (and all our loved ones)...  That we might successfully keep worry at bay
*that God will once again be GLORIFIED through our struggles

You know, my family has this Thanksgiving tradition.  Since we were children, my sisters and cousins and I COMPLAINED about it.  Secretly, I have come to LOVE IT.  Just prior to eating Thanksgiving dinner, we go around the table lighting a candle and saying what we are thankful for.  Yesterday, I said I was thankful for my struggles.   And I truly am!  They keep me real and they force me to rely more heavily upon Jesus.

May you all be enjoying a BLESSED day-after Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The epitome of anticlimactic....

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  John was up to his elbows in the cleaning of the turkey fryer, and I was about to start another load of laundry when we heard his cell ringing.  "Answer my phone!" he screamed, and we both started scrambling for the phone.  Alas!  It was not to be!  We missed the call AGAIN!  Here's what the voice message said,

Hi John.  It looks like we're destined to play phone tag.  I will try again to call you on Friday morning, but basically Dr. Ahuja would like you to have an EEG.  We are sending orders, and the neurologist will call you to schedule that.  As far as a return to work release, please leave a number for me to fax it to and I will send it over.  

BAH!  What is it?  What does this mean?  What are we looking for/ruling out?  SERIOUSLY?!?!?!  We waited four days for THIS????  That isn't even an answer!

Basically, we are just taking comfort in the fact that the slooooooooow speed with which the doctor is moving on this likely indicates it isn't that big of a deal.  So we're just plodding ahead:  T-giving Road Rally tomorrow a.m., John frying a turkey for dinner at my parents, stuffing ourselves on GREAT food and rejoicing that we are together and NOT in the hospital...  That's what our plan of action is.  Hopefully, we'll get some real answers on Friday.

Have a BLESSED Thanksgiving everyone!  And BE THANKFUL!

Worship Wednesday: Blink

I have been consumed by this song for several weeks now.  I keep meaning to blog about it on a Worship Wednesday yet my Wednesdays seem to be so busy I NEVER get the time to blog on one of them!  Today I am BOUND and DETERMINED to blog about this song.... especially since it has come to mean SO much more to me in the past five days.

Teach me to number my days 
And count every moment before it slips away 
Taking all the colors before they fade to gray 

I don't want to miss even just a second more of this

The very first time I heard this song, I burst into tears.  This band, Revive, they PERFECTLY captured the entire theme of my parenting career.  God has been teaching me this lesson since I squeezed Noah's slightly large head out of my body.  I remember one time standing in the corner of my living room holding one of the boys (it had to be Noah or Jeremiah... something tells me it was Miah).  It was the middle of the night.  This child was FUSSY! He wanted to be held but not just held... he needed to be held WHILE I stood up... every time I tried to sit down he would start WAILING the second my rear hit the couch cushion.  I was exhausted!  I too was crying by this point.  John found me half asleep, still crying, standing in the corner using the two walls to prop my body up so I wouldn't sit and make the baby cry again.  I remember that night thinking this will NEVER end!  I will NEVER sleep again!  I will NEVER get this child to stop crying!  BAM!  WHAM!  SLAM!  Here I am and that "baby" is nine years old and babbling on and on and on about Power Rangers.  He is HUGE!  He wears a size 10/12.  He SLEEPS through the entire night all night and OHMIGOSH!  What I wouldn't give to have his tiny little newborn body in my arms for just a second again!  Since I can't go back, I have tried SO hard to apply that lesson to my RIGHT NOW!  When I am lying in bed with Hannah's little piggies poking me in my privates while I try to sleep, I remind myself... before I know it this baby girl will be perfecting her toe touch, applying makeup for prom, or EEK!  walking down the aisle!  So I snuggle in tight embracing the intrusion into my peaceful sleep reminding myself... IT HAPPENS IN A BLINK!

It happens in a blink 
It happens in a flash 
It happens in the time it takes to look back 
I try to hold on tight, but there's no stopping time 
What is it I've done with my life 
It happens in a blink

This past five days happened in a blink too.  Just five days ago, we were cruising along....  No worries... Just some irritation over John STILL having to take pain meds and muscle relaxers...  No stress....  Actually planning to BUY semi-decent Christmas presents for the kids this year and take them to the water park too... No fear...  We hardly remembered our neurosurgeon's name...  IT HAPPENS IN A BLINK!  IT HAPPENS IN A FLASH!  We were catapulted back into the thick of it all!  But guess what???  This girl isn't THAT dumb!  I am LEARNING my lesson.  As much as I am anxiously hoping Dr. Ahuja's staff will call us SOON, I am also cherishing the last moments I have of NOT knowing.  I'm glorying in the extra time spent as a family... (we went into town to get John's car last night... stopped at Qdoba for dinner...  shopped at Walmart...  I remember at Qdoba thinking this is SUCH a precious moment... my babies and my honey and I gathered around this booth... we NEVER eat "in" a restaurant... we always gulp our food down in the car on the way to this or that.... last night we just sat and laughed and shared and it was DEFINITELY a moment to memorize!)

Slow down, slow down 
Before today becomes our yesterday 
Slow down, slow down 
Before you turn around and it's too late 

Wherever this day finds you:  on the top of a mountain... in the depths of a valley.... PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to realize:  IT HAPPENS IN A BLINK!  whether this is a good moment you want to memorize or a gut wrenching one you want to fade quickly into just a memory.... IT HAPPENS IN A BLINK!  

It happens in a blink 
It happens in a flash 
It happens in the time it takes to look back 
I try to hold on tight, but there's no stopping time 
What is it I've done with my life 
It happens in a blink

Hang on my dear friends!  Enjoy every second of this marvelous thing called life!  Enjoy every second of RIGHT now... for in a BLINK it can ALL change and there will be another brand new set of circumstances to appreciate.

Happy day before Thanksgiving everyone!

[Oh and btw... NO!  we still have NOT heard ANYTHING from the doctor!]

Monday, November 22, 2010

No news...

just an fyi.... it is 6:30 p.m. Monday and we have NOT heard anything from the doctor yet. I will post as soon as we hear.

John is feeling better today... BUT that means the loony bin thinks he is working tomorrow...  AYE CARUMBA!

Again... I will post when we hear anything.  Thanks for your prayers.


So often I hear people say, "God will never give you more than you can handle."  But I don't really agree with that.  I do believe that God DOES allow more than we can independently handle to come into our lives because if we are not pushed past our "threshold" of tolerance we will not grow.

Recently while pondering this concept with my now famous friend, Lori (see blog that made her FAMOUS) I used this analogy.

A personal trainer evaluates his/her client and then comes up with a training program that fits the client.  If the client is a fitness newbie, the exercises will be simpler, the weight used lighter, and the number of repetitions smaller.  If the client is a professional athlete, the exercises will be more complex, the weight used heavier, and the number of repetitions greater.  The goal of the personal trainer is to help the client make fitness improvements.  It is not to hurt the client or to just waste the clients time with exercises that are easy for him/her to complete.

God is the PERFECT personal trainer.  He knows us, body, soul, and mind, better than ANYONE, better than we know ourselves.  He allows us to endure the struggles that He knows will make us stronger.  He doesn't want to hurt us by allowing struggles that are too difficult for us.  Yet He doesn't want to just waste our time here on this planet allowing struggles that bring about no changes in our lives.  The goal of this earth is the "perfecting of our faith."  It takes work to get perfect faith, probably a lot more work than it takes to get a perfect body.

So what's the application here of this funky little analogy:

1.  TRUST... Trust that God knows you.  He knows what you're going through.  He is allowing a tailor made program of struggles designed to perfect YOUR faith.

2.  WORK HARD....  Work hard to get the most of out of this tailor made program.  If you were paying a personal trainer to get you in shape, you would sure as shoot do each repetition exactly as the trainer instructed in order to get the most benefit out of your money.  Approach your struggles just like that.  If you have to go through the mud and the muck of ICKINESS, get some benefit from the pain you are enduring.

3.  DON'T LOOK AROUND....  Don't look around at how much weight is on someone else's weight bar or what type of exercises their trainer has them doing.  Focus on the task in front of you, trusting that what is "on your plate" is exactly what you need.

I promise you all, I am applying all this nonsense I'm spouting off about.

1.  TRUST... I am trusting that God knows that John is AGAIN out of work with something wrong with his brain.  I am trusting that these struggles will perfect our faith.

2.  WORK HARD... I am working hard to get the most out of this struggle.  I'm being gut-level honest with all of you in case someone else can be encouraged by my struggles.  I am reigning in my worries.  I am rejoicing in the positive aspects of what I'm facing.  Just this morning I updated my Facebook status, "I'm thankful for the fact that I get an unexpected, ENTIRE week with my hubby home."  And guess what?  I am!  I am REALLY thankful for extra time with him.  I am trying VERY hard to complete each rep of this little faith perfecting workout with great form.

3.  DON'T LOOK AROUND... Finally, I am putting my blinders on.  You know how they make a horse wear blinders so it doesn't get distracted?  I am trying to put on blinders.  I am trying hard to focus on what God wants ME to learn, glean, endure.  The only time I am taking my eyes off my own business is to pray for other people.

Just wanted you all to know that I'm not just spouting off words that I'm not paying attention to.  I am trying VERY hard to apply what God is revealing to me and what I am sharing with you.  Hope you all have a VERY blessed day!  I promise to update on John's condition as soon as we know anything.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back at the beginning....

It hit me as I stood in my kitchen this morning.  I mean don't get me wrong.  I have been there the past two days.  I know John was zoomed to one hospital in an ambulance and zoomed in another ambulance to a different hospital.  It grazed over the surface of my brain that this was all a freaky sense of deja vu:  back in the Neuro ICU, same faces we had seen 14 months ago, same words flying around:  CT, MRI, EEG, same hallways to walk, same Noodles to eat and Starbucks to drink.  However, this morning I was walking through the kitchen listening to my husband coughing away in the bathroom.  (He has a touch of a cold and had just asked me, "Isn't green bad?")  I thought, He should hop in the shower.  The steam would open him up a little.  when an image of the cane we bought him last night flashed into my mind.  And as real as hitting a wall of cement at 75 miles per hour everything came to a HALT.

I realized.  We are BACK there.  We are pretty much EXACTLY where we were 14 months ago before John had his surgery.  He can't use his life side very well (better than Friday but still not very well).  He is WEAK (which is a situation that in and itself TERRIFIES me.  My big strong, tough, a little bit scary husband  weakened is just a petrifying situation for me.)  and we do NOT know what is going on with him.  We don't know what this "lesion on the cerebellum" is, but we do know that:  John needs to use a cane to get around.  We also know that while the doctor said he COULD return to work on Monday, he also said if John had some sick time available he SHOULD take it easy this week.  Therefore, John should be out of work.  It is all VERY reminiscent of last year, and I have a secret to tell:

I am scared.

I'm not really scared of what we're going to go through.  I know that I know that I know:  God is IN control.  He has our back.  All things work together for good to those who love God.... I know these things deep in my being.  However, right here, right now, poised at the threshold of enduring this again, I'm afraid I can't do it again.  It is silly really.  I've done this before.  I've limped through the days before diagnosis trying to force my worries into submission.  I've wrestled my fears in a waiting room full of other loved ones.  I've fought a VERY stubborn man to get his butt in gear and help me get him healthy.  I've humiliated myself admitting to others we needed financial help.  I've endured the scorn which came from those who felt I should have kept my financial needs to myself and let God provide for my needs without me asking people for help.  I shuffled, head down, eyes averted through the shame of applying for energy assistance and food stamps.  I have held that little green card hidden in my hand while trying to swipe it without anyone else at Walmart knowing I was paying with a Quest card.  I've watched this man I love more than my own life reduced to half of himself and struggling through forming a new identity based upon the fact that the one thing he REALLY valued in himself, his strength, was completely gone.  I have toughed it out when faced with terror on my babies faces and in their hearts.  So rationally, based upon the fact that I have done all of this before and lived to tell about it, it is silly really that I am scared.

But guess what?  In spite of the fact that I have done it all before and made it through to the other side, I don't wanna do it again.  And part of why I don't wanna do it again is I am not sure I can do it again.  I know God has the strength to get us through this.  I know Dr. Ahuja is smart enough to get us through this.  I know our family is faithful enough to get us through this.  I know that our friends pray hard enough to get us through this.  But I don't know if I, Jami Lynn Kastner, can do this.  Because I just DON'T WANNA!  I wanna go back!  I wanna be in that place where we were complaining about all the medication John has to take and whining about the fact that he still struggles to turn his head to the side.  Instead of sitting here worrying what this fricken lesion thing means.  I wanna be in the place where we were planning to spend the Christmas "bonus" we just got on nice presents for Amanda & Amber for once and a trip to a water park for the little ones.  Instead of having to sock that money away in case John is out of work again.  I wanna be in the place where we had triumphed THROUGH our struggles.  Instead of here in the first chapter of a new book of struggles.

Alas, as I always say to my children, channeling the spirit of the great Mick Jaeger, "You can't always get what you want."  I want to be a size 9 again.  I want to sleep through the night without some one's little piggies jabbing me in my private area.  I want to clean the kitchen floor and have it stay clean for more than 39 seconds.  And now I want my husband to be healthy again.  But, "You can't always get what you want."    However, if you keep singing that song you'll find this gem of wisdom too, "But if you try, sometimes you might find, you get what you need."

God isn't about giving me what I want.  He is about giving me what I need.  He is the creator of this crazy, jumbled, sometimes slightly insane creature.  He wrote the owner's manual on Jami Lynn Kastner 2.0, and He alone knows what I need.  So I'm taking my tears and my fears and trudging back upstairs to pour myself some more coffee.  I'm not in a place that is pleasant right now, but that doesn't mean that I'm not EXACTLY where God wants me to be.  And I know myself, as well as some of you know me too, and we know that in spite of my little temper tantrum here today, I will pull it together and figure it out.  I'll scratch and claw; kick, scream, and bite, and do WHATEVER it takes to get my little family through this most recent skirmish.

I'm adding the song Voice of Truth (Casting Crowns) to the top of my playlist.  It says it all today.  Expect to hear from me more frequently in the days to come, both to update you on John's status and because I have a jumble of feelings to work out here and blogging soothes my soul.

Once again, I cannot tell all of you how valuable your support has been.  Encouraging words on my FB page, comments to my blog, e-mailed responses, but most of all PRAYER.  Thank you everyone.  Thank you so much!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What I know....

I know without a doubt that our God is a GREAT BIG God.
I know without a doubt that "a lesion on the cerebellum" is NOT too big for our God.
I know without a doubt that walking through this will likely be quite difficult.
I know without a doubt that John J. Kastner is a tough STRONG man.
I know without a doubt that our God will carry us every step of the way.
I know without a doubt that Jami L. Kastner is much stronger than she feels.
I know without a doubt that we serve Jehova Jireh our healer.
I know without a doubt that Dr. Arvind Ahuja is a GREAT, GREAT neurosurgeon.
I know without a doubt that our family will be there to help us out.
I know without a doubt that MANY will be praying us through this.
I know without a doubt that we are safe in our Father's arms.

And I still stand FIRMLY behind our life verse:

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11


Part of the problem with being as transparent as John and I are is once in a while you wish you hadn't been so open.   The whole world has been invited into our drama and now we have some unsettling information and it is too late to pull back and not share.  So here we go... as verbatim as we can recall:

Dr. Ahuja breezed in a little bit ago with the news we could go home.  John asked him if he had any idea what caused this.  He said the MRI revealed a lesion on John's cerebellum, and he is concerned.  We do NOT know what this means and are trying hard not to google it so PLEASE do NOT share with us stories of "lesions on  the cerebellum" from your past.  If you MUST google, please do NOT tell us what your research reveals.  Dr. Ahuja will be consulting with the radiologist on Monday and will follow-up with us after that.  We prefer to wait and get our information from the world-renowned neurosurgeon, thank you.  The only other piece of information we have is John has been instructed to take a low dose aspirin every day for now.

Right now we are REJOICING in the release from the hospital and trying to just apply Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.

Thanks!  We know you will all continue to hold us close in your prayers.

John & Jami

Like a bad, bad dream....

[I apologize in advance.  I will NOT be proofreading this blog.  I am typing it as fast as my fingers can fly so that you all know how to pray and then I am GOING TO BED.]

It was all so surreal... I had JUST gotten off the phone with John.  He was having a busy day trying to fix a pump or something or other, and I was having a crazy day of dealing with temper tantrums.  I hung up and got the kids in gear for a quick trip to the library.  They were standing there with books in hand when my phone rang.  It was John calling me back.  Only when I answered it was not John on the other line.

"Is this John's wife?"  the voice asked.

"Yes.  This is Jami."  I replied.

"This is Keith.  I work with John.  Something is not right with him.  He said it feels like when he had that stroke thing.  Public Safety is on their way here."  He reported.

My head started swimming.  I didn't even know which thought to land on.  I can't do this again.  Stroke like symptoms what does that mean.  I can't do this again.  Should I get to the city.  I can't do this again.  What is going ON!?!?!?

In a flurry of activity, I called the neurosurgeon, called my mom, and returned the call to John.  Public Safety answered his phone and reported that the fire department had been called and paramedics were on their way.  After hanging up, with the children getting in the minivan, I stood in my living room starting to hyperventilate a little.  I can't do this again!  I can't do this again!  I can't do this AGAIN!

The adrenaline kicked in and my mind started flying.  I have a dog now what in the heck am I supposed to do?  It's going to take FOREVER to get to Milwaukee.  The library's going to send back the books I had on hold.  Rational and irrational thoughts abounded.  I went to ask the neighbors to let Kiah out.  I couldn't stop bawling the whole time I was talking to them.  I said goodbye to my aunt (through my tears) and agreed to call her as soon as I knew anything.  I climbed in the car and started driving.

I called about a jillion people on my way into town... I had to try to arrange help with the children without either of my sisters, my father, or my mother available.  ARGH!  Finally taking charge because I was not making decisions, Amanda left work and told me she was meeting me at the hospital.  I arrived at Mt. Sinai.  (Do you know where Mt. Sinai is??? It is NOT in a good part of town!!!  I asked the receptionist if she thought it would be okay for the children to wait for me in the waiting room while I went back by John.  She said, "I wouldn't leave them there.  We get some ODD people in here."  Alrighty then... coming with me... that's what they are doing.)  We got to John and he was "off."  Speech was slow.  Left side weak, numb and tingling.  I could just TELL he was not right.  Mt. Sinai contacted Dr. Ahuja who told them to IMMEDIATELY transport John to St. Luke's.  Another ambulance ride, another flurry of calls, and a few tears later I arrived in the Neuro ICU.  It was queer and strange like stepping back in time.  In the weirdest of all coincidences the nurses who were the first two nurses to treat John after brain surgery were BOTH on duty and BOTH helping John when I walked in.  The aide on duty was also the same, and later in the evening I ran into Sarah Prusinski a former student of mine from HCS.  She is a nurse on that unit now.

They immediately whisked John away for another CT.  Jane, Dr. Ahuja's nurse, accompanied us and explained the procedure... blah blah blah to see if he's had a stroke and blah blah blah to make sure his brain is getting enough oxygen.... blah blah blah or it might be his Chiari Malformation is causing a problem.... blah blah blah bulging discs blah blah pinched nerve....  BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!  The pointed me to a waiting room and left me alone while John went into the imaging room.  Finally finding a little privacy, I just let the tears wash down my face.  What am I doing here?  How did this happen again?  We were just coasting along thinking the worst thing was two days off work now and again and then WHAM!  What in the world is this and how in the WORLD will I make it through MORE?

The nurse finally returned to report that they had ruled out a stroke which was VERY good and was apparently the reason for all the fuss and rush and blaring ambulance lights.  We slowly and calmly returned to the Neuro ICU.  Erin (our beloved nurse from last time) tried to get John comfortable and set up; however, by now he was approaching MASSIVE amounts of pain because he had missed his afternoon meds.  His neck muscles were tightening and his headache crescendoed.  At some point Amanda arrived.  (She had taken the kids from Sinai to get food and then go to my mom's.)  Meds were ordered.  An MRI was prescribed for tomorrow morning (a fact that really bothered John because that lunatic actually thought he was going home with me tonight!)  All sorts of activity finally settled down and Amanda left to get us dinner.

After eating and taking meds, John promptly fell asleep.  I waited and waited for Dr. Ahuja to arrive.  Turns out he was stuck in surgery.  Finally at 9 p.m. I left to go get the kids and return home.  After the grueling one hour trip home, I arrived to find my doggie WIGGING out!  I grabbed her collar and rushed her out towards the leash.  My flip flops hit the frost on the deck and my feet FLEW out from under me.  THUD!  My head connected with the boards of the deck before any other part of my body did.  Pain EXPLODED through my skull and somehow keeping a firm grasp on Kiah's collar, I just laid there staring up at the stars sobbing.  My HEAD hurt!  My husband was in the ICU!  This day SUCKED and I just wanted to crawl into someone's arms and cry.... yet I was the only viable adult in this crazy house tonight.  I triumphed over the urge to just lie there crying until my tears froze to my face.  I struggled to my side, hooked Kiah to the leash, and let Noah help me up.

My head is STILL throbbing.  I need to figure out what to do tomorrow.  I made all these plans for the kids so that I could be at the hospital, but they are contingent upon me leaving the house by 7:30 a.m.  and that is NOT going to happen.  Not sure what will become of tomorrow....  All I know is this... as much as this day socked me in the gut and left me lying on my back head, heart and soul throbbing, my God is STILL on the throne.  He is STILL in control.  And He is STILL good, right, just and true!

As I drove home tonight it was like K-love had a playlist entitled "Encourage Jami through her SECOND bout with her husband's brain issues."  Song after song fed my soul.  I belted out praise with one hand on the wheel and one in the air.  I do NOT feel that I can make it through this whole, awful scenario again, but I serve a God who can move mountains so I trust my soul and not my feelings.

Please, please, please people of God, get to praying.  Please pray that the doctors will figure out (and TELL US) what is going on with John.  Please pray that the strength will return to John's left side and that they will get his pain under control.  And please please pray for this frail servant of God with a soul of steel.  I do not FEEL that I can do this again but I KNOW with God's help and your prayers I can walk through ANYTHING.

Thanks in advance for your prayers!
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