Saturday, February 27, 2010

Full moon...

Last night as we drove home from Franklin it was so BRIGHT out! Even though it was nearly 8 p.m. and clouds were covering the full moon, it was so BRIGHT. I marveled over how much a full moon makes a difference out here in the country. At any other time of the lunar cycle if I am standing in my living room looking out my front window, it looks as if I am the only house for miles. But when there is a full moon, it is amazing! I can see ALL the way down to the end of the cul de sac in front of our house! You don't notice these things when you live in the city where streetlights (man's light) crowd out the moonlight (God's light). In the city, the wonder of a full moon passes with hardly any notice. It looks cool up there in the sky, but it doesn't really impact our existence at all. It got me thinking about that concept....

Is God playing the role of full moon in my city-dwelling life? Is He looking cool up there in the sky, but He really isn't impacting my existence at all?

Lately I've been struggling through healing some old hurts. It has been a HORRIBLE week of pain for me. The only thing I can compare it to is having a broken bone that healed improperly re-broken and set properly. It has been excruciating! Yesterday I felt God telling me to write it out, to write it ALL out. In a private place where I don't have to worry about other people telling me what they think about it, I wrote.

It was AWFUL! I hated it! I was NOT eloquent. It was not well-written or engaging. It was bare and raw and UGLY. I cried through much of the writing, and when I was done I felt icky, as if I had just taken a swim through raw sewage. I told John first thing this morning that I must have heard God wrong. That did me no good, and I wasn't going to write my way through any more of it. Then just a few hours ago, it was weird... I started to notice a feeling in my heart that had been missing for a while. I started to feel warmth where there had been numbness. I started to feel hope and love where there had been despair and fear.

God quickly called another medical situation to my mind. After I had Hannah (via c-section) I developed a horrible hematoma (it was about the size of a foot long Subway bun) underneath my incision site. The solution to that situation was the most physically painful thing I have EVER endured.... worse than all four births rolled into one. With no pain medicine administered, my doctor re-opened a small part of my incision and then for what felt like HOURS she "bled" that hematoma. She pressed and pressed and pressed on the pocket of blood until she had drained it all. It was terrible. I remember my nails digging so deeply into the palms of my hands I thought they would draw blood. For weeks after that experience with my doctor, John would have to repeat that process at home to remove the blood that continued to refill that area. Each time was a little less painful and eventually the incision site healed.

I think God called that situation to my mind because that is how this emotional healing will be. Emotionally, I think last night's private journaling was the initial draining of the hematoma. I think the first time was the worst. As I keep journaling, I will continue draining the hematoma, and it will still be painful. But each time will be better and better until full healing comes.

Back to my full moon analogy.... I think this whole week.... painful memories.... reliving traumas... new hurts revealed... last night's painful journaling... has all been a way of God moving me out of the "city" of pain and regret I've been wallowing in, so that I can abide in the country where His truth, healing, and glory don't just look pretty up in the sky but they affect my entire existence. I think that for MONTHS I have been residing in this city where I know that God is there, and I know His truth in my heart (I've know it all since I was a little girl) but because of the streetlights all around me I haven't been able to let the FULL weight of His light affect my landscape. At least that is what I'm hoping this week was, because I am NOT a fan of pain just for the sake of pain :) So I'm going to continue on. It is NOT fun! But some things just HAVE to be done. I'll continue writing in private (sorry even a bare-naked girl like me has to have SOME things which are kept to herself), and I'll keep hoping that God will move me out away from all the streetlights which are crowding out the moonlight.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bring the Rain

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I trust you Lord

[disclaimer: I am NO poet.... TRUST ME I'm not! This is just my heart right now.... laid out bare and ugly]

I struggle to see what You're doing here
I do not understand
Yet I trust You Lord

The water is murky
The mist oh so thick
Yet I trust You Lord

The pain intensifies....
waves upon waves
Yet I trust You Lord

This night has been unending
The sun eludes me still
Yet I trust You Lord

Each "bottom" I thud against
Gives way, proving itself false
Yet I trust You Lord

My tears are my food
day & night
Yet I trust You Lord

What doesn't kill me...
makes me stronger
And I trust You Lord

I'm an Idiot (I mean optimist)

Why do I ALWAYS believe the best in people? Why do I get these lofty ideas that THIS time will be different? They won't let me down. A Christian wouldn't do THAT to me. They've learned their lesson. They care about me too much to make that choice. Normal people aren't that mean.

The truth is much of the time, people WILL let you down. A Christian would do THAT. It takes a LONG time before people learn their lessons. Even when someone cares about you they can make BAD choices. Finally, normal people are sinful, vile creatures... just like me.

What to do when faced with FILTH of another person's act? A boss, a friend, a spouse, a family member...

Well first of all you do the forgiveness thing.... yada yada yada. I'm not being flip here because I don't believe in forgiveness. I'm being flip because forgiveness is like Christianity 101. I've got that one down. In fact, many people in my life are on me because I am TOO forgiving. They purport there are certain things that should NOT be forgiven and/or that I forgive a little too easily and completely.

Here's where I get hung up.... I get hung up on wallowing in the WHY of it all. Why did they let me down? Why did they do it again? And WHAT can I do to avoid it in the future. See there is a very dark side to the fact that I am very good at taking personal responsibility for things. I often find myself slipping into blaming myself when things happen to me, even things that are CLEARLY out of my control.

I'm sitting here right now staring at a situation. I keep saying to myself, "Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time will be different." But deep down in my soul I know, I just KNOW it will not. This person is going to make the same poor choice again. They will not have learned a THING from their past actions. [I promise with ALL of me if they surprise me I will admit it here. I swear I will.] But even though my soul is so sure it will turn out exactly the way it always has in the past, my heart keeps whispering, "Not this time. Not this time." I guess it's good that I'm able to be optimistic, but it feels like I'm just an idiot.

This past summer I faced a similar situation. I could see the writing on the wall. I knew that an ICKY thing was coming my way. Yet there I sat believing the best, trusting and hoping. Even while all the evidence was being laid out in front of me, I continued on in my idiotic (optimistic) hopeful ways. Firmly and surely, God kept advising my soul, "Do NOT put your trust in men. Put your trust in ME." He kept saying it to me over and over. At first, I thought that meant I was supposed to trust Him to keep the bad thing from happening, but then the ax fell, and I saw the truth. He was there to pick up the pieces from what man had broken. He was there holding me the whole time. Before, during, and after, my life fell apart. He will NEVER let me down. I feel Him saying this to me again today, in this much more minor situation. The path that is chosen this time may be similar to the one that has always been chosen before. Man may let me down AGAIN, but God NEVER, EVER will. God will be there when the sin of this world has been spewed all over me. God will be there to pick up the pieces of my shattered hopes. God will be there in the life-altering and merely annoying disappointments. He will be THERE.

While sometimes I think it would be easier if I prepared for the worst, so the good things were a pleasant surprise. I guess I'm mostly glad that God has got this Idiot (I mean optimist) in the palm of His hand. I'm glad that no matter what man might do to me, He will NEVER let me down.

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20b

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sound off!!!!

Okay so I wanna know you read my blog! Please post a comment here (if you don't know how, e-mail me and I'll walk you through it). Leave your: name, location and how you found this blog. Thanks!

ADDENDUM: PLEASE!!!! Sound off!!!! I am SOOOOOOOO curious! Someone visited my blog from Moldova!!!! Who are you??? What about the Philippines???? I just wanna know who you are and where you're reading from... it is SO fascinating!

Worship Wednesday: Beauty in Worship

I have been blog stalking and seen some interesting things... Like blog themes for certain days of the week. I've seen Silent Sundays or Wordless Wednesday where bloggers just post a picture or pictures, no words, on that day. I like this idea, but I am nervous about stepping out and committing to blogging a certain thing on a certain day of the week every single week. Will I be able to keep up with it? What if I miss a week? What if I run out of material? BUT this one idea keeps coming back to me. I think it is a PERFECT place for me to start, because of my deep, desperate love for worship: Worship Wednesdays.

Today, this first Worship Wednesday I thought I would broach this topic: beauty in worship. I feel beautiful when I worship. I really do. Right now I am in a season of life where I do NOT like the way I look. I am heavier than I want to be. I have lost a SIGNIFICANT amount of hair from the stress of the past seven months. What is left of my hair is getting grayer and grayer with each passing day. Things are sagging that ought not to be sagging. Yet, when I worship, I feel beautiful. I really do. It is the one time that I feel STUNNING! And you know why? Because it is the one time that what I look like doesn't matter. It is the one time when my bulging abdomen and my graying hair fade into the background, and the spotlight is shone where it belongs ALL the time: on Jesus. It is the one time what matters is what's pouring out of my heart and streaming up to the Father's throne. All that matters then is loving Him and loving Him is ALWAYS beautiful. It is stunning. It is breathtaking.

The past few times I've worshipped this feeling has been overwhelming me, and nagging there in the background is this lesson. I've kinda been ignoring it a little. I know its application would be life-altering, but I am scared I will fail at applying it. So I side-step it and refuse to "look it in the eye." But now here it is for all of you, my audience of accountability, to read: If I were to SLOW DOWN and worship Him with every breath, every minute of every day, I would have less time to feel gross about myself. I would have more time to feel beautiful.

What an amazing world this would be if we judged ourselves upon the beauty of our soul! Can you think of a more worthy thing to measure our self-worth upon? If we woke up every morning and instead of looking in the mirror and thinking, "Ugh! There's another wrinkle." We looked up to Heaven and said, "Ah! There's my Savior!" If instead of stepping on the scale and groaning, "Bah! It's more than yesterday!" We stepped into His presence and shouted, "Yes! I love you more than I did yesterday!"

See I think this is the secret this dense old lady is missing: I feel beautiful when I worship because I'm no longer focusing on me. I am focusing on Him. And he is BEAUTIFUL! He is STUNNING! He is BREATHTAKING! When I focus on Him I can't help but be covered with, wrapped in, saturated by His beauty, and I, in turn, feel beautiful!

So will you join me today? Be beautiful! Give me just 4 minutes of your time. Stop and really listen to and hear the words of the song that has been playing in the background while you've read this. [Sing, sing, sing and make music with the Heavens] Focus in and worship with THOSE words. [When we shout Your praise lift high the name of Jesus] Let the beauty of Christ... let the beauty of worship, surround you. [What's not to love about you? Heaven and earth adore you.] Lift your hands if you feel like it. Close your eyes if it helps. Look at Jesus and let the ick of this life, the ick of your sinful self fade away. [You are the love that frees us. You are the love that leads us.] I promise you that four minutes will make a difference. God bless you and give you a GREAT Worship Wednesday! [Son of God You are the One, You are the One, we're living for!]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Letting go...

Why do I have such a hard time letting go??? I'm not really a hoarder. (Although my husband would probably disagree as he is DEFINITELY a purger extrordinaire.) I haven't been saving the jeans I wore senior year of high school hoping to fit back into them. I don't have every single solitary Sunday school project my children ever created. In fact, I actually took part in LOSING one of Jeremiah's baby teeth. The last one that fell out came out at my parents' house, and I have NO idea where it ended up. Yet still on I struggle to let go of what seems like it was never meant to be.

I pray and pray and pray for God to help me let go of my grasp on it. Yet the feelings of sadness and sorrow and longing remain. So then I start to think, "WAIT! Maybe God doesn't want me to let go. Maybe I'm supposed to persevere in hope?" So I get my hopes up a little and cling tightly to what is clearly just a vapor.... a shadow of what it used to be.

How to know? How to know? Like when you're facing a new job opportunity.... how to know what's God's will? When there are positives and negatives on BOTH sides, how do you know which way to go.

Here's the best I've come up with. It's not rocket science. In fact in some ways it's not even a choice..... WAIT. Just WAIT. When you aren't sure which path to travel, when you're unsure if you should let go or hang on, when you're singing along with the Clash, "Should I stay or should I go now? If I stay there will be trouble... If I go it will be double..." Just WAIT.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Waiting is no fun, but when you are unsure what to do I think it is the best strategy. I've been sitting on a decision since Saturday. I had the weirdest dream on Friday night that actually turned out to be creepily prophetic. I spent the day Saturday feeling a bit like I was on Sixth Sense.... I see dead people... okay the people in my dream weren't dead but it was weird to dream something and then see it come true the next day! I tried hard all weekend to figure out what this dream meant. What did God want me to do with this crazy situation? I still cannot figure out if he is telling me to proceed in faith and speak or let go and wash my hands of the situation.

I thought maybe typing this out would make my decision more clear, but it has not. So.... if you're looking for me... I'll be right here.... waiting.... He'll speak. I know He will. But His timing is not my timing. So until His time.... I will WAIT.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

He is!

This place called Lifechurch is really just watering my dry and weary soul. It has been a long hard road for me this past year, and I am so grateful God has placed us in this church to get a little restoration. This week Eva was back leading worship! Gosh I LOVE that girl! Her love for Jesus OOZES out of every pore. She beckons me to come worship Him. THAT is what I want from a worship leader. I guess I want someone who can hit a few right notes, and it doesn't hurt that she dresses pretty cute too, but show me how to WORSHIP! LEAD me to WORSHIP! That's what I need!

And Pastor Aaron.... Oh Pastor Aaron... I do NOT know how he does it EVERY week, but I've yet to hear him preach a sermon that's a flop. I'm really enjoying his series, Prisoner's Blog. Today's entry: He is... I thought I'd just ramble a bit and give excerpts from this sermon with my thoughts on it. How it hit me. How God impressed it upon my heart. How He spoke to me through it.

"Whatever issue you are facing today, He IS." It doesn't matter what you're going through. It doesn't matter what is in front of you, He IS. He IS big enough to conquer it. He IS powerful enough to defeat it. He IS rich enough to pay it. He IS loving enough to heal it. He IS. "He IS whatever you need." If you need healing today, He IS. If you need provision today, He IS. If your marriage is in trouble, He IS. If your bills are overdue, He IS. If your children are walking in rebellion, He IS. If your alcoholism is out of control, He IS. If your heart is breaking, your world is crumbling, and you are ready to throw in the towel, He IS.

"God wants to be first or nothing at all." How many times do we give God sloppy-seconds? How often do we put Him on the back burner? How often do we push our Bible aside and pick up the newspaper instead? He wants to be FIRST place. He wants to be what we rush too. You know when you wake up in the morning, and you have that morning dry mouth feeling? You are PARCHED! All you can think about is getting a drink of water to rehydrate your sleep dried mouth. You rush for that glass and fill it up quick! Then relief, as that water rushes down your throat, refreshing you. That's how God wants us to feel about Him. He wants us to have an urgency to meet with Him. He wants us to rush to His Word like that first morning glass of water. He wants us to let His promises, His instruction, His encouragement, rush down our soul and refresh us. When we are in trouble, He wants us to run to Him FIRST. When we are excited, He wants us to run to Him FIRST. When we need guidance, He wants us to run to Him FIRST.

"It rains on the righteous and the evil." "God is the Sustainer." When your life is falling apart, when your marriage is falling apart, when there is chaos all around you, He will sustain you. I thought back to last fall. I remember how terrified we were to walk through the trial of brain surgery. I remember the fear of losing my husband. I remember the fear of not being able to feed my family. But when I look back on that time, what stands out the most is NOT negative feelings. I praise God continually for that time. We had SO much family time. We LOVED having John home. That extended period of Forced Family Fun saved this family from the rocks of destruction. I also remember how AWE-inspiring and FAITH-affirming it was to see God provide for our physical and financial needs over and over and over again. From sources unknown and through people we had NO idea were even following our saga. It was one of the most incredible things we have EVER been through. He truly was our Sustainer in the midst of those troubled times.

Finally, I just HAVE to close with a few funny things Pastor Aaron says that I just LOVE! I absolutely love it when he says, "I'm in someone's kitchen now!" when he is starting to preach something that's hitting close to home. I also loved his Granny's saying from a few weeks ago, "If if's and but's were candy & nuts, my what a Merry Christmas we'd have." I love it when he says, "Tell the truth and shame the devil." This week he said, "Opinion's are like armpits. You've got a couple and some of the time they stink." But this was my ALL TIME FAVORITE so far! "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than going to Taco Bell makes you a Grande Buritto." Marinate on that for a moment!

It was a GREAT Sunday to be in the House of the Lord! This girl got her worship on, was blessed by the preaching of the Word and even ran into a few old friends. Hope your Sunday was good too.

It's all about love....

Palms sweating, heart racing, knees knocking she willed herself to enter the room. Seated on the couch, the mother who rocked her to sleep, taught her right from wrong, and wiped away all her tears. Only this was NOT right and even a mother's love could not wipe away these tears. Behind the paper in his favorite chair, her daddy, strong and sure, always firm but loving, never angry or worried. Yet this time she feared he would be both. For what she had to say would change it all. "Mom, Dad," she said her voice shaking, "I'm pregnant."

I've known that girl over and over: a cheerleader, a student, a youth group kid. In fact, I'm the child of that girl... a young scared teenager carrying love in her belly. You know what that girl taught me? You know what her tears told me she needed? Love! Love! Love! It's all about love!

So often in the Christian world, we hit that girl with condemnation, judgment, disapproval. We try to teach her a lesson about her sin. Let me tell you what.... LIFE is going to teach that girl a lesson over the next 18 years. We don't need to present our silly little lessons. And there is therefore NO condemnation! And judge not lest ye be judged!

I've heard it said that Christians are the only ones who shoot their own wounded when they are down, and I have seen that to be true. Time and time and time again when a fellow Christian has fallen (or been shoved) face first in the mud I watch other Christians walk right over them shoving them deeper in the mud, delivering a well placed kick as they pass by adding to their mud covered pain, or tossing out a quick "I told you so!" to deepen their shame.

It makes me sad that so frequently the very place we should run in our darkest hour, becomes a place of ridicule, shame, and pain. The church should be where we can go to find acceptance, forgiveness and LOVE when we are swimming in the consequences of our bad choices.

Dreams crashing, heart breaking, eyes welling up with tears, she jumped from the couch and rushed to this child that had come from her womb. Grabbing the face of her precious baby between her palms, she wiped away the tears with her thumbs and said, "I love you and we WILL get through this." She pulled her pregnant baby into her arms and held her sobbing body close. Their sobs mingled, and the girl whimpered, "I thought you'd be mad. I thought you'd hate me." She pulled back a little, sniffed aside some of her sadness and told her baby girl what she had been saying since the girl was a baby at her breast, "I love you when you're naughty and I love you when you're nice."

When I was about 20 or so, my dad had this Plymouth Laser. It was a GREAT little sports car. He loved that car! One day at home on break from college, I had to drive that car to a doctor appointment. On the way home I totaled the thing. I remember the fear and terror in my heart. I did NOT want to tell my dad I had totaled his precious car. I trudged over to a nearby McDonald's to use the phone while the police cleared the wreckage. I remember standing next to the fryer, the smell of french fries in my nostrils as I told him, "Dad I had an accident, and your car is ruined." I waited for the screaming and anger. I waited for the disappointment in his voice. But you know what his response was??? "Are you okay? Are you hurt?" That was all my dad wanted to know. That was all he asked. When I said I was fine, he said, "I'm on my way. I will pick you up in a few minutes."

See that's how I envision God when I sin. I don't see Him barking out fiery destruction in His RIGHTEOUS anger. I see Him broken by my sin, but still arms open wide. That's what I aspire to be when confronted by the sin of those I love. Broken and damaged by the effects of their sin, but still arms open wide to pull them in with my love. I may not always be as gracious as this fictional mom I created here (or as my real life dad). I may not remember to love first and leave the lecture for another time, but I aspire to be JUST like that when faced with the sin of someone I love.... arms open wide... with nothing but LOVE for them.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Funny what we take for granted.....

I have been suffering through an AWFUL back episode this week. The other day when I awoke, just wiggling my leg brought tears to my eyes. This morning as I tried to tie my shoe, I thought, "Funny what we take for granted." Normal days I just bend at the waist and tie my shoe completely taking for granted the fact that my back just allowed me to bend in that manner. You know how I am. I let my mind wander, and I wondered. What else do I take for granted?

Last night as I drove home from Franklin I turned on K-Love. I didn't catch the whole story, but they were talking about some woman. She had a degenerative back condition which required surgery, she had lupus and one other illness I can't remember. I thought CRUD! She has a lot on her plate medically. This morning I woke up and besides this terrible back ache, I was healthy. "Funny what we take for granted."

A few weeks ago I read the story about a man from our church, Jason Mentink. He was just 25 years old. At the end of January he died playing a game of basketball. He left a young widow and two little girls. Last night I went to bed beside my husband, and this morning I kissed him goodbye as he left for work. "Funny what we take for granted."

Last year my sister attended back-to-back funerals for two victims of childhood cancer. Those Mommas watched their children battle cancer and lose. Then they had to put their babies' bodies in coffins and bury them in the ground, no longer squeezing their arms around their precious children and now left only with the hope of squeezing them in eternity. As I type this I can hear the pounding of my children's feet as they run down the basement stairs. Yesterday I followed them around my parents' house trying to keep them from destroying stuff. Today I will fight with them to get their chores done with a good attitude. "Funny what we take for granted."

In January, 48 Laotian Christians were forced from their homes at gunpoint. Some had belongings confiscated. Some had their homes destroyed. When they refused to renounce Christ, they were forced to leave their village. I blabber on and on at this website about my God, my faith, my beliefs... I freely go to church and worship WHENEVER I want. I openly teach my children to love Jesus. "Funny what we take for granted."

The earthquake in Haiti toppled thousands of homes, leaving so many without a roof over their head..... No shelter from the elements... No place to put their things.... No safety and security from criminals... Today I will mutter about cleaning up my house. I may get a little chilly and stroll over to the thermostat and punch it up a few degrees. I might get hungry and walk over and open my refrigerator to find something to eat. I will likely lie down next to Hannah after lunch and sneak in a little nap in my warm cozy bed. "Funny what we take for granted."

What are you taking for granted today? When you bend down to tie your shoe, thank God that you can. If you are not dead, thank God you are still alive. Even if you're ailing, thank God it isn't worse. Whether your husband is bringing you roses or leaving his dirty laundry on the floor, thank God you have him. When you catch your children just after they've colored on the wall, thank God they are healthy enough to do that. If you love Jesus and plan to go to church this Sunday to worship Him, thank God you can do so without fear of retaliation. If you have a roof over your head and food in your refrigerator, thank God for those provisions. And if you have NONE of these things, thank Jesus that He died to save you from your sins. You at least have that!

God bless and have a GREAT Saturday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Zow! Is it getting hot in here???

As expected, my last blog turned up the heat a little. But as is typical with controversial issues, I fear some missed the point of the blog. The point wasn't really about butt writing or cussing or tattoos. It wasn't about submitting to my husband or whether I agreed with a sermon. The point was two-fold: we have to be in the world not of it AND no one else can tell us what that means for us. It is the Holy Spirit's job to reveal to people how God wants them to apply Scripture to their lives.

I heard from people on both sides of the butt-writing issue. However, I wasn't really asking people to tell me what they think about butt writing. Right now, it's a mute point in this home. Hannah is young enough that we don't even have to debate the issue yet. I was kinda just waxing on about the despicable state of morality these days and whining about the temptations my children will have to resist. The real point of my blog was: we can't decide these things for other families... for other people... As the writer I will take full responsibility for not communicating that fact clearly enough, and without belaboring the issue here, I will try one more time to clarify.

Have you noticed that the second people get a bug in their butt to drink more water, they're harassing everyone in their world about the need to pee clear urine? Or how about how some people who are convicted that Halloween is a Satanic holiday not to be celebrated by Christians, seem to act like anyone who trick-or-treats must be a Satan worshipper? And why do people assume that if God convicts them a certain way about the wearing of words on the butt, He will convict every other Christian the same exact way?

There are 17 different versions of Italian salad dressing in the grocery store aisle because there are zillions of different people with zillions of different taste buds. Variety is the spice of life! We are not all alike. Therefore, what you consider to be on your "naughty list" may not even register for the next person. The way you worship or the way you live is not necessarily the way God has convicted everyone else to live. With regards to baptism: some sprinkle; some immerse. Some denominations believe women should never cut their hair or wear pants. Some believe that we should raise our hands when we worship. Others believe in speaking in tongues. As long as we all love JESUS isn't that what's really important?

Over the summer we had a "swearing" incident. We ended up in a debate with a friend who did not think John and I were parenting the incident properly. We told the person, "We do NOT want our child to swear; however, we are not making a federal case out of this because we have bigger issues going on right now." We OBVIOUSLY did not want our child to let unwholesome talk come out of his mouth; however, at the point at which the incident occurred, there were MANY things threatening to destroy our family. John and I did not feel that it was the appropriate time to make an issue of the word our child said. We felt it was the time to delve deeper into some of the root issues causing the swearing: the increased tension in our home, the fear that our family was falling apart, the fear that the daddy of this family might not survive brain surgery. So we made a minor case out of the word which was said and tried to deal with the feelings behind that word. That was how God led us. It didn't mean we were saying swearing was okay. It meant God had impressed a different priority upon our hearts. Yet on we fought to defend our parenting when really and truly in the words of the great Aaron Cole, "That's between you and Jesus!"

So please don't mistake my prior blog. I guess it was more about letting people have the freedom to be individuals; about trusting people to get with their God and come to the conclusion He has for THEM; and about trying HARD not to be the kind of people who try to push their convictions about life, love and relationship with God upon other people.

Well, this heat's getting a little uncomfortable for me. I'm not one who likes confrontation or stirring up controversy. In fact, I try hard to avoid confrontation and conflict AT ALL COST. Yet, I believe FIRMLY in trying hard to keep my nose in my own business and trying to keep my eyes focused in the mirror and not out the window. I'm hoping I've inspired at least one person out there to do the same. Let this blog encourage you to look in YOUR mirror. If you are even a little bit like me, you will find PLENTY of things in your own self to work on without ever having to look out the window at someone else.

Monday, February 15, 2010

In the world not of it........

To wear words on one’s butt or not, that is the question that plagues me today. Really it is a much broader issue that is on my heart: where do we draw the line TODAY between acceptable and not acceptable for a Christian. The questions that sprout from this are infinitesimal including much more than wearing words across the rear end. For our family right now they include things like: should one be allowed to choose soccer practice over AWANA and should a boy be allowed to get his ears pierced. Your family may be dealing with different questions:

Should my child get a Facebook account?
What’s the right age for a child to get a cell phone? Wear makeup? Go on a date?
Can my child be emo and be a Christian?

They all boil down to this same thing: how much of the world should we be letting into our lives, into our children’s lives. I think that children/youth of this generation have it harder than any generation prior to them. Never before have there been SO many doorways of temptation which lead to sin available. Sexting, internet predators, pop-up porn ads, pharming, huffing, sex parties THESE are the things today’s children and youth are being bombarded with every single day. Back in the day, all I had to "say no" to was drinking, pot and sex. That was about it! Today the things kids have to say no to are so much harder.

Which leads me back to words on one's butt.... seriously what's the harm of a playful slogan or two across your rear end... "princess" or "sweetheart" that's tame enough right? Or what about showing support of your team with a well placed "Sabers!" or "2010"... But just because what's written there isn't sleazy doesn't make the words on the butt issue any less controversial. My husband has VOWED that Hannah will NOT wear any writing across her rump. He says that will just encourage boys to look at her butt and call attention to it. I'm not sure what I think or what we'll end up doing with that issue. In parenting John and I are called OVER and OVER again to deliberate the question, "Is THIS issue worth fighting with our child over?" So I don't know where we'll be when she's 13 or 15 or 17, but this I do know: The Bible is silent on this issue. It does not say, "Thou shalt not display slogans across thy derriere." Therefore, we are left to mull through the muddy waters of modesty by ourselves. I guess the only answer is that John & JamiKastner have to determine for OUR family what is right. No one else can make that choice for us. We are the parents given the responsibility for raising Hannah Elyzabeth Kastner. We are the ones who will be held accountable for how she is parented. Therefore, we have to make the decision of whether her rear-end will be allowed to become a billboard or not. I truly don't know what we'll decide. But I do know that what "other kids are doing" will not affect my decision, and it shouldn't affect yours either.

Wouldn't it be great if we all did this? If we stopped worrying about whether someone else listens to secular music or sports a tattoo or has a glass of wine with dinner? Last week in church our pastor said something I underlined, circled AND highlighted in my program, "That's between you and Jesus!" I agree with him wholeheartedly. I believe you need to get with your God and determine if that is the language He wants coming out of your mouth or if that is the establishment He wants you visiting. The rest of us need to get our noses out of your business and let you and God get down to the brass tacks of the matter.

When we hear an F-bomb fly out of someone's mouth, why is it that we assume the person who dropped it must not be a Christian or if they are a Christian they haven't learned to "tame their tongue." How would we feel if we learned that person who just let that cuss word fly had just received word their child has leukemia or had just found out their mother was killed in a tragic accident or had just gotten confirmation that their spouse was cheating on them. I'm not advocating being a potty mouth here, and I actually do think it is possible to remain Christlike even under the WORST of stress. But (and that's a BIG HUGE BUT there) I am advocating less turning up of noses and more trying to understand. I am telling you that even VERY godly people when pushed to the very edge of what they can tolerate may reveal an imperfection or two.

I love the saying, "Hate the sin. Love the sinner." I don't have to agree with your language to love you. I don't have to listen to the same kinda music as you do to love you. And I can love you (and your daughter) whether you wear words on your butt or not. Good luck everyone! Helping these babies navigate their way through the evil of this present world is a difficult job! I'm praying for all of you as you hash out the nitty gritty of these issues. God go with you!

Blog silence....

WOW! Last week hit me in the face like a ton of BRICKS! Sorry if you missed my ramblings here online, but I had a CRAZY week with NO time for blogging. Quickly, lessons I learned:

1. Snow makes EVERYONE crazy! It makes drivers crazy. It makes Mommas crazy. It makes EVERYONE lose their minds. Note to all: snow is just rain but a little colder!

2. Cassie Jastrow is ALREADY an amazing hair stylist. No joke! The girl's only been in stylist school (or whatever they call it these days) for about 5 months and she is AWESOME! Must be a natural, because she did a GREAT job! (Shameless plug for Cassie: You TOO can get your hair cut by her all day on Monday's at the Aveda Institute downtown.... just $15!)

3. A family of 7 makes A LOT of laundry in just 4 days of a broken wash machine. Especially when day 1 of said broken wash machine started with the Momma behind on laundry. AYE CARUMBA!

4. 40-year olds should NOT attempt to sleep on couches... or on floors for that matter.

5. A certain blog writer maybe should have listened more carefully to Momma made crazy by snow in order to avoid being snowed in down in Franklin and having to endure #4.

6. Things always seem to work their way out. No matter how crazy and undecipherable they seem... they always seem to just work their way through.... Very seldom ending in complete and utter destruction. (This thought should be recalled next time I am up to my eyeballs in elephant dung.)

7. Traveling up my driveway should NEVER... repeat NEVER be attempted when said driveway is snow covered.

8. Country peops are not THAT friendly. Sure they'll wave as they pass by but will any of them stop to help a woman struggling with and bloodying herself on a stalled snow blower.... not really.

9. I should NEVER, EVER again treat McDonald's in a disdainful manner. Not even counting the fact that a good portion of our livelihood comes from this establishment..... the number of times that place has been a godsend bringing peace to my insanely loud minivan... bestowing comfort to my weary ears.... and even bailing me out when I'm trapped at the bottom of my driveway, can't get into the house to feed the kids, and have to leave for AWANA in 20 minutes.... NEVER again shall I speak an ill word of ANY McDonald's ANYWHERE!

10. 15 homeschoolers hopped up on TONS of sugar make A LOT of noise.

11. 9 hours sleep after nearly 2 weeks of complete and total sleep deprivation can make a person feel BRAND NEW!

12. Old people can drive you a little crazy. No matter how much you love them, they can seriously push you to the edge sometimes.

13. Quite often all your hard work will not result in glory for you, but will yield great rewards for the next person in line. Think of this at two times: 1. when you're the person slaving away and seeing no real results.... take hope because someone, somewhere, sometime WILL reap the benefits of your hard work. 2. When you have great success, do NOT forget to look back and give some thanks to those who came before you and laid the seed that you are harvesting now.

14. EVERYONE needs a day of rest. Especially four exhausted little children who are now congested and sore throated from being dragged all-around the State of Wisconsin (from Green Bay to Franklin) this week and only spent 2 days in the past 7 in their own house..... and especially their exhausted parents who did all the dragging and put up with 4 crabby little urchins.

15. Some wounds run so deep that they take a VERY long time to heal. Be patient with yourself. Keep moving forward. Healing will come and a stopwatch should not be put on it.

So PHEW! A new week has begun, and I for one am GLAD! Although I see there is more snow in the forecast this week.... AYE CARUMBA!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pastor Aaron for President????

Wowzer! Aaron Cole you KNOCKED my socks off yesterday! I seriously do not think I have heard Pastor Aaron preach ONE sermon that has not socked me right in the gut. But yesterday was REALLY good. I loved it! It challenged me. It affirmed me. It was AMAZING!

His new series is Prisoner's Blog. It is a series on Colossians. Before I get into the spiritual ramifications of this sermon, let me just address the aesthetics. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the current"ness" of Lifechurch. They continually use media, lighting, and atmosphere to create a contemporary environment that just SPEAKS to me! I love the creativity of this series title. I love the use of audio visual presentations to introduce it. But strip that all away... were it just Aaron Cole standing in his grubbies in the middle of an empty warehouse with wooden crates for seats, yesterday's sermon STILL would have rocked my world!

Lord Jesus Christ - I always find it funny that I have been a Christian since I was 10 years old and have been ACTIVELY pursuing a relationship with God at least all of my adult life, and yet STILL portions of scripture or Biblical concepts can rock my world like I've never heard them. It happened last week when I was working on AWANA lessons with the kids. We read the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, and I thought, "I SERIOUSLY do not EVER remember hearing this story!" I mean I have read through the entire Bible cover-to-cover at least once and the New Testament SEVERAL times and this story JUMPED at me like I had never heard it before. When Pastor Aaron explained the significance of the usage of the name Lord Jesus Christ all together, it did the same thing. He said that when Paul used all three terms together it wasn't random. It wasn't just what he felt like calling Jesus at that moment. When Paul refers to Jesus as the "Lord Jesus Christ," he is doing so deliberately to call attention to Jesus being Lord (the only way), Jesus (humanity), and Christ (divinity). Wow! Paul was preaching a sermon in just three little words! Amazing!

Power in the name of Jesus - There is POWER in His name. I learned that VERY intimately this summer. I battled some pretty tough attacks from Satan, and the ONLY way I got any victory was through over and over and over again calling the name of Jesus. His name is the only one that saves. His name is the only one that defeats Satan. His name is the ONLY one. When we pray "in Jesus' name," we are praying something powerful. When we use the name of Jesus in ANY way, there is POWER!

LOVE will change the world - LOVE! Not judgment. LOVE! Not lectures. LOVE! Not picketing. This part of the sermon really, really, really ministered to me. I loved how Pastor Aaron went on about how loving someone is NOT condoning their actions. There is NO WAY we are EVER going to shame someone into the kingdom. Oh and one more thing... the Bible doesn't say God is shame... it says God is LOVE.

That's between you and the Lord - It's our job as Christians to lead people to the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit's job to bring conviction about sin in their lives. I guess I just don't get why so often we (Christians) think it is our job to tell other people how they should live their lives. I wrote it down and underlined it twice when Pastor Aaron said, "That's between you and the Lord." We have two things to worry about: 1. spreading the gospel and 2. getting the plank out of our eye. We don't have to worry about the speck in someone else's eye.

Again I've yet to find a sermon Pastor Aaron has preached that wasn't earth shattering for me. I cry almost EVERY time I hear him preach. I would be hard pressed to order his sermons from best to least best because they are all SO good, but this one is at the top of the list right now simply because it is freshest in my mind. And maybe Pastor Aaron for President is taking it a little far, but I will tell you this... That man was PREACHING yesterday!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On divine appointments....

After a night of haunting dreams, I got John off to work and then stumbled down to my office with my third cup o' joe in my hand. I was intent on my goal of getting a blog posted before starting my Saturday morning chores. I finished my blog but was still feeling weary so I decided to go blog stalking.

Earlier this week I had decided to start more actively browsing on Blogger in an attempt to get more exposure by visiting, commenting on, and following other people's blogs. I thought if I expand my network on this site I will become more visible. More visibility will hopefully translate into more traffic at this site. See I still hope the right person is just going to stumble upon my blog and decide I am publishable.

So blog stalking I went. I don't even remember how I found her page, but within the first ten words, I just KNEW her story would be my story. As I read on towards confirmation of my hunch, anticipation was HEAVY in my belly. I felt my stomach knotting up as each word neared me to the culmination of my suspicions. Then it was right there in front of my eyes, and the sobs catapulted from my heart. I felt an instant connection to this complete stranger for she had suffered through the EXACT same thing I had. I marveled at the coincidence of stunbling upon the exact blog which would soothe the aches lingering from my night of dreams. But I only marveled for a moment before I realized that there was no "stumbling" about it. I had found this very blog, this specific blog, because God knew I needed it.

Do you ever wonder about divine appointments? I do. I imagine it like a surprise party. God orchestrates every detail without my knowledge. Then He lies in wait. I unknowingly enter the room and have my breath taken away by the shock of that first, "SURPRISE!" As I start to mingle about, I marvel at the details which were considered during the planning of the surprise. (He thought to invite that person. He took the time to blow up a picture of that memory. He remembered to get my favorite appetizers and beverages.) In the days following the party, things begin to make sense to me. (Ah.... that's why my address book went missing last month. Oh... now I get why errands on a Thursday. Mhmm... that explains the random call from my Great Aunt Pearl.) In the aftermath, I think time and time again, "Wow! I am SO loved! I can't believe God went to all that trouble just to give ME a divine appointment."

I'm praying that each of you has a divine appointment this week. I'm praying that God will take your breath away with a big "SURPRISE!" As you mingle about through your divine appointment, I pray you will recognize and acknowledge the details He worked out. Then as it all starts to make sense to you, I pray that you will think, "Wow! I am SO loved!"

God bless, and have a GREAT week!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My mom the superhero....

***1.5 mile walk to soccer practice = exhausting
***updating Facebook status to read, “Jami is sitting at soccer practice…
NOT looking forward to the 1.5 mile walk home.” = easy
***having a mom who is on Facebook and then comes to rescue you with a ride home = priceless

When I answered my cell phone to my mother’s greeting of, “We can come pick you up at soccer practice.” I was a little confused. How did she know I did not want to walk home from practice? Geesh! Maybe I’m not just talking out of my butt when I tell my kids, “Don’t you dare! I know what you’re thinking!” Then she said, “I was just on Facebook…” and I thought, “Praise God for a mom who is on Facebook!” She and my brother Seth hightailed it up to the middle school and saved me from a 1.5 mile walk accompanied by four WHINING children. For two months or so I had been playing drowning victim to my mother’s role of just-in-time lifeguard saving the day. Over and over again, she would breeze in with a cheerful, “Here I am to save the day!” It made me so grateful I have a mom who is so generous and giving. It also really got me thinking, and I realized two things:

1. You are never too old to need your Momma.

2. I am glad that God has a bit of superhero in Him too.

I'm glad that He swoops in proclaiming, “Here I am to save the day!” But is He really saving the day? Or does it just appear that way to us? Does our perspective make us think He is a superhero, when instead He is really a Master Builder with a perfect plan?

This week the kids and I attempted to make a paper mache piñata for school (HUGE failure, but yeah that's not the point of this story). We started with a balloon. The kids kept saying, "How are we going to get the candy in that balloon? It doesn't make sense." I told them, "I have a plan just watch and see." Then we covered it with the wet, messy, gloppy newspaper soaked in paste and they said, "How are we gonna get the candy in there?" I said, "I have a plan just watch and see." As we tied a string around it for the hanger, they said, "How are we going to get the candy in there?" I said, "I have a plan just watch and see." They were so darn focused on getting that silly candy into the piñata that they were missing out on learning the process of making a piñata!

God called my mind towards the struggles in my life. When I say to Him, "How are you going to turn THIS around for your glory?" He says to me, "I have a plan just watch and see." When I bug Him with, "How in the world are you going to get me outta THIS?" He says to me, "I have a plan just watch and see." When I scream at Him, "Why God!?!? Why!?!?" He says to me, "I have a plan just watch and see." But I stay SO focused on the rescue, SO focused on getting to the end of the struggle that I have to wonder if I get all I need to out of the process of the struggle.

So again I ask you: When God "swoops in to save the day," is He really saving the day? I don't think so. I think the "rescue" was a part of His plan all along. It just feels like He gets there in the nick of time from our perspective. All along when we were crying out for help and for understanding, He was saying, "I have a plan; just watch and see."

It is sooooooo very hard, but I am going to start trying harder to get ALL I can out of the process of the struggle. I am still going to cry out to God, "Rescue me! Save me! Show me how this all makes sense!" I am still going to wonder, "How are we gonna get the candy in there?" But I am tired of being so focused on the piñata candy that I don't learn how to make the piñata.

Will you try along with me? Will you try to focus on the process of your struggles? Will you try to stop and look around you and see what God wants you to learn when you are face down in the mud and the mire? He WILL save the day. There is NO doubt about that! So slow down and LEARN while His plot unfolds, because He has a plan; just watch and see.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


The first sips of coffee were in me, and I was starting to feel the energy and peace they bring. Yes my coffee brings me peace. I am in a difficult spot right now. One of those times when people say to me, “I don’t know how you do it all!” and I want to scream in a almost psychotic voice, “I don’t! I don’t! I’m losing my mind.” I won’t bore you with the specific details of the stress, but suffice it to say that I am stretched beyond my flexibility in every area of my life. I awoke this morning feeling like I had run a marathon in my sleep. I did not get ANY rest or recovery from that night’s sleep! I was walking around in a fog trying to get my day started. Finally the pot was done, and the magic began.

First the smell of the coffee started hitting me. It beckoned me away from my stress and called me to come pour myself a cup. Just the sight of that precious liquid filling my cup helped my heart beat slow and my shoulders relax a little. I stirred in the cream and sugar and took joy in the caramel color that developed. As I lifted it to my face I breathed deeply of the intoxicating aroma. Then the moment arrived, that moment when I got that first sweet taste of that blessed nectar from God. Before I knew it that coffee was doing its job, it was coursing through my veins and bringing energy to my sleep-deprived body.

I am sure that as you read this many of you are thinking, "Dear God this girl is ADDICTED to coffee." I am. I am woman enough to admit it. Last week we returned home from staying at my parents' house and found I had forgotten we were out of coffee. It was about 9 p.m., and we were FRIED! We had spent a week living out of someone else's house and caring for my elderly grandmother. Yet still I made John run to Piggly Wiggly to get coffee for I was starting to get a little sketchy thinking about how I'd weather the morning without any.

You know I want to be like that about God. I want to be so addicted to Him that the thought of one morning without an encounter with Him is unbearable. I want to anticipate His aroma. I want to hear Him beckoning me away from my stress. I want the mere thought of Him to help slow my breathing and relax my shoulders. I want to take joy at my first glimpse of Him, and I want Him to course through my veins bring energy to my stress-ridden soul.

Well, now I can't wait until tomorrow morning! As I brew my coffee I'm going to think about God. As I smell its aroma I am going to allow my mind to be pulled to Him. Do it along with me. As you inhale that first breath of freshly brewing coffee say good morning to God. Then as you sip in that beautiful brew, sip in some peace from Him. Let Him be what gets your heart pumping tomorrow morning. Let Him be better than Starbucks!

Blessed are the peacemakers...

Elijah HATES covers. I'm not sure why, but more than once this hatred has caused me a loss of sleep. It did again last night. I awoke shivering and realized I had NO covers on me. I sat up found my covers and pulled them up to my chin, but almost instantly he started whining and kicked them back off. Too tired to fight him to return to his OWN BED or STOP kicking my covers off, I just got up and stumbled off to find an empty bed in our house to sleep in.

As I picked up my phone (which is my alarm), I noticed my indicator light was blinking red. What I found waiting for me was a VICIOUS comment about my blog on Hannah Montana. It was vicious to me (called me a "liberal sinner posing as a Christian") and vicious to Hannah Montana (called her an "abomination"). I rejected the comment, but its words kept swirling around in my head.

What to do? What to do? The comment was RIDICULOUSLY confrontational; therefore, it included an e-mail address in case I wanted to debate. I could reply, "Did you even read this blog before you blasted me and Hannah Montana?" or I could simply reply with scripture, "And over all these virtues put on love...." (Colossians 3:14) However, in the end I chose to take the wise advice of my 16-year old cousin (as professed through her Facebook status just yesterday), "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction." (Alex Lawson... who may have pirated it from someone else but who cares? for my purposes she gets the credit.)

I decided not to reply, but the whole experience got me thinking... Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 SEVERAL situations I am facing right now came to my mind, and as I thought through each of them in the context of this verse I realized.... The best choice is always to try to make peace.

"But Jami," you say, "you have NOT met my _______________ (fill in the blank as you see fit: mother, friend Mildred, husband, neighbor). He/She is IMPOSSIBLE to make peace with." I say to you, "PSHAW!" Peace is ALWAYS possible. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Say nothing. When someone says something confrontational to you, when someone tries to pick a fight with you, when someone attacks you, it is very wise to remain silent. When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Proverbs 10:19) Sometimes the best way to "fight back" is to say NOTHING! My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19) You do not HAVE to even reply when someone tries to bait you into an argument or simply says something negative or rude to you.

2. Respond with scripture. If you absolutely MUST respond to a confrontational person or in a confrontational situation, the safest avenue may be to respond with scripture. Recently I was in a VERY painful situation. I was leery of even well-meaning people's misplaced comments. Wisely assessing how difficult the situation was, my mother responded with an e-mail that contained nothing but scripture. It was the BEST response she could have given. DISCLAIMER: you canNOT respond with divisive scripture planned to defensively get back at the person. Choose scriptures about peace, love, and prayer instead.

So there you go.... I am choosing not to fight back (I guess I'm not TRULY choosing silence as I did blog about it, but I am not responding to the outlandish and vicious attacks in that comment.) I am claiming (and standing upon) this promise:

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:18)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The other side of the coin

I can't wait for this day to end. Stress has been my constant companion. There were several times today when I wanted to lose my Christian testimony or maybe just my mind, but it was you, my blog readers, who inspired me to keep plugging on. I kept on thinking, "I have to keep going so I can give them a good report."

Just yesterday, just YESTERDAY, I ended my blog:

Wherever you are this morning: at the top of the sunny mountain or in the depths of the darkest valley, HE IS STILL GOD! So give Him what he deserves: your praise, your worship, your love.

And right away today, I had to put my money where my mouth was and live that theory out. It was NOT so easy, but I am happy to say that so far, I've made it.

I awoke for the first time at 3 a.m. when a sleepwalking child invaded my bed, then again at 4 a.m. when a nightmare required some soothing to get a little princess back to sleep and finally at 5 a.m. when it was time to get up and get started with our day.

It wasn't looking good from the moment we pulled out of our garage door. It had snowed... not much, but it doesn't take much to make for treacherous roads out here in Dodge County. We prayed, slipped and struggled our way up Madison Road to Hwy 33, but by the time we reached 41, it was becoming quite evident that we would NOT be on time. We had to drop John at MU instead of going straight to my parents' house (today was one of our days to care for Gramma). After dropping him off safely, the children and Auntie Marge and I continued on our way to Oma and Poppa's house.

Once I walk in the door on the mornings I care for my Gramma, the mania seems to commence IMMEDIATELY. Everyone needs me at once. Four little children dragged from their beds a little too early for them have weathered the one-hour drive and are now awake enough to realize they are HUNGRY. Their noisy clammering tends to wake Gramma who needs a lot of attention first thing in the a.m.: blood sugar needs to be tested, blood pressure needs to be taken, meds need to be administered, breakfast must be made, etc... Somewhere in the middle of all that I attempted to get Hannah a glass of water, I was pushing the lever for the ice dispenser and I could hear something, but nothing was coming out. I thought, "Where in the WORLD is the ice?!?!?!?" I opened the freezer door and was met with the answer: LOUDLY and MESSILY several cups of ice poured out onto the floor answering my query. It was at that exact moment, that I realized I was having the complete opposite of "A beautiful morning...."

In the next few breaths as I swept up and tossed out the ice, I mulled over the choice before me: loose my temper and get frustrated with all this chaos or live out what I had blogged about the day before. A few moments later as I cleaned some dishes the following started pouring out of my soul (and my mouth): "I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus." It grew in my belly and was exploding out of me with fervor and emotion. "No turning back! No turning back!" I thought to myself, "From now on, every time that Satan throws these pathetic little darts at me in an attempt to steal my joy, ruin my acts of service, or even cause me to sin, I am going to fight back with THIS song!" I promised myself that I WOULD remember that he wouldn't be attacking me if I weren't doing some good for the kingdom. I purposed in my heart to "count it all joy" and praise Him at the top of my lungs whether it was sunny or stormy in my world.

I wish I could say the day instantly got better. It didn't. There was still a cantakerous 6-year old to deal with, a VERY messed up wireless network adapter in my way, worries about the bills I can still hardly pay, and the continual stress of constantly trying to do more than I should. As we traveled home in the car tonight, I was nearing tears. My exhaustion, the tensions of the day, abundant conflict all around me, threatened to overwhelm me. I sat there with wails building in the back of my throat and started just chanting in my head, "I won't give up. I won't give up." (It was SO very important to me to weather this day and be able to tell all of you I did.) When all of a sudden like an answer STRAIGHT from God, the sun broke through my clouds. K-Love started playing Sing, Sing, Sing by Chris Tomlin. I LOVE that song, and earlier in the day when I first arrived at my parents' house it had come on but I had to get out of the car and start the insanity so I couldn't listen to it. I started singing that song like my life depended on it. I was belting it out. I lifted my hands as I sung, "LIFT HIGH THE PRAISE OF JESUS!" And then I felt it.... the moment when my praise actually ushered in the peace of God.... I literally FELT it.... the children who had been bickering WAY too loudly quieted down and actually heard the song.... Even my Aunt stopped commenting on all she was seeing around her somehow transfixed by the presence of God which had entered the minivan..... I could feel Him all around me.... I could feel Him crowding in and bringing peace with Him.... My spirit settled down and my emotions followed suit. What followed was odd... K-Love seemed to being playing a playlist entitled Jami Lynn Kastner's favorites: Perfect People came on, then a few worship songs I LOVE and finally Free to be Me.... I got a 20 minute retreat into the presence of God and I was GREEDY for it! It refreshed me! It encouraged me! It strengthened me to go on!

Again I wish I could say it made everything better, but it didn't. We arrived home to more lunacy.... putting away all of the Wal-Mart stuff... unpacking the basket from Oma's house... a stack of bills a mile high in the mailbox... trying to get 4 VERY crabby and completely spent children into bed..... the discovery of a towel used to wipe up a milk spill that REALLY should have been washed before we left.... and then traipsing down to my office because I vowed I'd type this blog before bed only to have the cat step on the power strip and shut off my puter.....

But guess what y'all? I did it. It wasn't pretty. But I did it. I stood strong, and it was mostly because of all of you. Because I wanted to be able to say to you at the end of this day, "By the POWER OF GOD alone, I was able to stand strong." I wanted so badly to be able to give you all a good report afterwards. What a vast supply of accountability partners you all served as today! Thank you so much! I hope in return I could encourage you a little with this blog. Hang tight! Don't give up! Try using a little praise to usher in the breakthrough, peace, or just a tiny little oasis of rest from the struggle... but whatever you do remember this:

Wherever you are this morning (evening): at the top of the sunny mountain or in the depths of the darkest valley, HE IS STILL GOD! So give Him what he deserves: your praise, your worship, your love.

Peace out y'all! I am going TO BED! Praise Jesus! (I might have to get a little charismatic over that thought.) Hope you all have a great night and a blessed tomorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A beautiful morning....

Hmmmm…. What started out as a bit of a chaotic morning (John took about 4 “alarms” to get out of bed, Jeremiah awoke at 6 a.m. because the cat jumped on his pillow, Hannah awoke too early and she was C-R-A-B-B-Y, my back was SPASMING and shooting pain all the way down my left leg), had turned around quite nicely thank you (John and I read the Bible and prayed before he left for work, Jeremiah and Hannah crashed on the couch watching TMNT because they both woke too early, Elijah and Auntie Marge were still asleep, and Noah was playing PS2 so I was blissfully in silence).

I was walking down the stairs to my office carrying my third cup of “nectar from God” (that’s coffee for those of you who don’t speak Jamiese) and I thought, “What a beautiful morning! What a peaceful way to start the day! I wish every day started like this.” And all of a sudden conviction hit me so hard my coffee literally sloshed over the edge of my cup and splashed on my foot…. Is God any less great on the mornings that start out anything BUT beautiful? OUCH! As the coffee seeped into my slipper that thought seeped into my soul…

When I awaken John late, and we are racing about getting him out the door, when Hannah won’t be consoled by adolescent turtles throwing great roundhouse kicks, when the cat doesn’t just jump on someone to wake them up but pukes on their comforter and all over their p.j.s, when I stumble down the stairs with a burnt cup of “nectar from God” rushing to my puter an hour late to see what awaits me in my work inbox…. Isn’t He the same God who deserves all my praise and worship?

I know it’s tough to “Praise him in the storm.” Trust me! I know! My life has had its share of storms, and I have not always weathered them gracefully. More often than I care to admit the torrents of rain have tossed me to my knees wailing and screaming, “Why? God! Why?” But God doesn’t change. He isn’t any different. Whether you are standing at the altar pledging your heart till “death do us part” or hunched over a coffin saying goodbye until we meet again…. whether you are rolling in the dough or scraping together $2.63 to put just one gallon of gas in your car and praying you'll make it to your destination.... whether you are healthy and well or sick and infirm... HE IS STILL GOD! He is still on the throne. He is still in control. He is still worthy of your praise and worship.

Let that seep into your slipper today. Mull it over and drink it in. Wherever you are this morning: at the top of the sunny mountain or in the depths of the darkest valley, HE IS STILL GOD! So give Him what he deserves: your praise, your worship, your love.


For whatever reason, this morning it occurred to me that we've been living in this house for six months now, and we have yet to discuss our "Fire Safety Plan." I'm sure it has something to do with the chaos that consumed our first few months here, but I decided not to waste any more time. I planned to do a lesson today on fire safety during school time. I put a task in my Blackberry to remind myself and moved along through my morning tasks.

During the devotions portion of the morning, I resumed my study of Zechariah.... today's reading: chapter 7. In the notes section of my Bible I found this comment on verses 11 & 12:

Zechariah explained to the people that their ancestors brought God's great wrath on themselves by hardening their hearts. Any sin seems more natural the second time - each repetition is easier. Ignoring or refusing God's warning hardens you each time you do wrong. Read God's Word and apply it to your life. Sensitivity and submission to God's Word can soften your heart and allow you to live as you should. (I underlined here just as I underlined in my Bible this a.m.)

Continuing on: read my Love Dare, did my morning workout, started a load of laundry, calmed some babies who woke too early, came downstairs to get started on my early morning work and school plans. I made up a really cool little worksheet Kastner Fire Plan. Number one on the plan: Get out FAST! And that's when it hit me. That's when the two concepts (Fire Plan & Zechariah 7:11-12) came together in my head and rocked me like the collision of two cars traveling in opposite directions: GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!

Do you know how much easier life would be, if when we are standing in the burning building of sin, we just GET OUT! ? How much destruction is wrought through standing still? How many lives are ruined when we smell the smoke a little? How much regret results when we think, "Just a little longer. I can make it just a little longer without getting burned." But why!?!?!?! Why do we stand frozen in the midst of temptation? Why must we smell the smoke of enticement? Why are we so stupid as to think that we can get away with dabbling in sin and not getting burned?

I absolutely LOVE the inspiration I get from the story of Joseph. When Potiphar's wife propositioned him, do you know what he did? He FLED! The Bible says, "But he left his cloak in her hand, and ran out of the house." (Genesis 39:12b). He didn't waste time waiting around. He didn't think about it. He didn't rationalize it. He smelled smoke and thought: GET OUT!

I'm not sure why this is on my heart this morning. I just feel the need to say to someone: GET OUT! Don't play around where you are! Don't think you are the ONE person who can resist! Don't think you won't get caught up in Satan's web when you dance too close to what he's put in the middle of your path! Turn around and RUN! Leave your cloak behind and RUN! I promise you with everything in me, you do NOT want the destruction that will result from your sin and you will NOT be the one person in this whole world to play around in sin and come out sparkling clean.

I'm a little sorry, but only kinda. My blog is so forceful and blaring today. But I can't help it. God put it heavy on my heart, and I know that someone out there needs to hear this warning: Turn back before it is too late and regret is your continual companion. Sure God will forgive your sin. I'm pretty certain the people who love you will give you another chance. However, you will regret for the rest of your days not just turning away from that stupid sin and fleeing.

Just GET OUT! You'll be really glad you listened. I promise.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...