Thursday, October 27, 2011

The load we bear...

Good morning everyone. I've spent a few days trying to catch up around here (and officially accepting the cheer coaching position at Heritage Christian School... Go Patriots!) and feel people may be wondering how things are going around here.

John is doing better physically. He seems to be adapting to his anti-seizure medication. While he is still dizzy, he now at least looks like he resides in this world, instead of appearing to be in la-la land all the time. The biggest prayer need related to John is for his spirit. He is just so DISCOURAGED... For a man who has always prided himself on his strength and power, being reduced to an infirm, restricted patient is NOT easy.

Jami is hanging in there. A little daunted by the task of taking care of EVERYTHING around this house again, but obviously not THAT scared as I still said yes to the cheerleading position.

Kids are fine. They are showing the wear and tear of their situation a little... one-by-one they have been dropping like flies to some icky cold bug that no doubt thought four slightly sleep deprived kiddos were a perfect target. But other than that they are doing well.

Laundry will be conquered TODAY!

Last night as we lay in bed, I could see how discouraged John was. I told him, "Babe, I know it stinks to keep going through this, AND I know this isn't fun to hear, but God is allowing us to bear this load because he knows we are strong enough to carry it." It is the Danielle Mabrey effect. When I had Danielle Mabrey on my squad, I knew that if I gave her something it would get DONE. It would be done on time. It would be done CORRECTLY. I never had to worry about that. As a result, I gave Danielle Mabrey more to do than I gave others. Was this fair? Not really. I was basically "rewarding" Danielle for being responsible by giving her more duties. But was it smart? Yups. Because Danielle had the tools to get the job done, it was the right decision to trust her with more.

I believe that is why we are "here again" in this muddle of this brain nonsense. God knows our shoulders are big and the size of our faith matches them. He knows that we trust Him. Is it fair that John Kastner has to deal with not one but THREE separate brain episodes, NEVER completely getting rid of them in between episodes? NOPE. But is it smart? Yups! Who better to proclaim God's power to the world that a stubborn, crusty old guy who refuses to give up and his Pollyanna-ish wife who never stops telling the whole world what they are going through??? We have the tools to get the job done.

So here's the lesson part:

What you are struggling with RIGHT now... What you are going through... I do NOT believe God would have allowed it into your life if He weren't SURE that you had the tools to get the job done. I'm not saying it will be EASY. I'm not saying you won't cry, scream, doubt or fear. But you WILL get the job done!

So go do it!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Silver linings...

Phew! am I TIRED! The day went much as I suspected it would...with a few surprises thrown in for good measure... got to sleep in (woken by an unexpected call from my dear friend... didn't mind being woken AT ALL because phone chats with her are a RARE treat)... jetted downstairs to try to call through my work.... left a message for Dr. Ahuja's staff at 8 on the dot... was racing through all my work calls when I saw the number on my caller id... (it is SO sad that I know the first three numbers to the St. Luke's complex by heart)... Just as I suspected, Dr. Ahuja wanted to see John today. So I finished my work calls, loaded up the car (my plan was to jinx myself into NOT being admitted to the hospital by OVER-preparing... I KNOW we don't believe in jinxes BUT), I packed EVERYTHING, spare outfit for EVERYONE, laptop w/charger, phone chargers, contact case and glasses, my crochet bag, Auntie Marge... We put Kiah on the leash to stay outside all day so we wouldn't have a peed bed upon our return and LEFT...

We headed to my parents house (btw.. this is a WHOLE nother blog, BUT I have THE single most amazing family in the world... didn't even have to ASK my sisters to take charge of AM and the kiddos for me... just started the request... they knew where I was going... and VOILA I was at the neurosurgeon sitting peacefully next to ONLY John crocheting my little fingers off as we waited to see the Dr.)

Dr. Ahuja agreed with wacky Waukesha Memorial doctor (kinda).... He agree that John had another seizure... He agreed that it was likely related to that old aneurysm... However, he did not agree with the medication prescribed OR much else... He concurred what the pharmacist had revealed and discontinued TWO of John's current meds....  The anti-seizure meds that the Waukesha Memorial doctor put John on (along with a crazy high dosage) are what is causing the INTENSE dizziness. Dr. Ahuja prescribed a lower dosage of something different to prevent another seizure.

Here's the scoop:

John is out of work for the next 2 weeks.
After that, he can return to work with no restrictions other than that he cannot drive for another 4 weeks.
He has to see a neurologist about the seizures (we are already established with one in Hartford).
It was MENTIONED that if the medicine does not control the seizures, they would do surgery on the aneurysm. (but that is a WHOLE nother ball of wax that I am just LEAVING in my Lord's hands and REFUSING to worry about)

I am CHOOSING to look at the silver linings:

***We did NOT get admitted to the hospital, nor did we have to schedule another angioplasty of the aneurysm as had been suggested in the first call to the doctor.
***I got a LOT of my crocheting done while we waited.
***I get an ENTIRE two weeks with my baby home... a quieter pace... less chaos...
***The dizziness should subside shortly and will NOT be something John has to live with the rest of his life.

I just won't even focus on the negatives... I'm not even ALLOWING them into the perimeter of my vision! My God will take care of the icky parts and I'm just gonna PRAISE Him for the good parts... THE END!

Thank you for your continued prayers. I'm off to Walmart to get some scrips filled!

Who to believe....

Well, good morning all. Sorry I didn't get an update posted yesterday... Catching up is not for the faint of heart! Even though my neighbor took the time to do ALL of my dishes while she was caring for my aunt and the dog in our absence, I still had quite a bit to catch up on around here:

*TONS of laundry
*a little shopping
*cleaning up after what looked like a tornado blew through our house
*making lists titled: What to bring if I'm rushing out the door to the ER. and What medications John takes.
*making dinner
*showering the elderly and infirm that I care for
*loving on my babies who I missed SO much during that 24 hour hiatus

I wanted to provide a few more details so you can be praying:

1. we are trying to get in touch with OUR neurosurgeon. We are NOT at peace about what the neurologist at Waukesha Memorial told us, prescribed, et al... He (after just two tests and seeing John two times) basically contradicted MUCH of what our neurosurgeon has told us over the past 2 1/2 years. We are VERY confused and don't trust him at all because we trust Dr. Ahuja. We did not fill the medication the Wauk Mem doctor gave us (in fact even the pharmacist said, "Wow! this is a drastic change from what he's been on in the past... and there is a current med that should be discontinued if they are going to take this route.") and have left a message with Dr. Ahuja's office this morning. We are waiting to see what OUR doctor has to say.

2. John is bouncing back a little, but he is still VERY dizzy. He lost his balance this morning and fell to the ground. Thank goodness he was in an open area and there was nothing for him to knock his head on!

I wanted to say THANK YOU for all your support. You just do NOT know how much even just a short e-mail or quick comment means to us. Just knowing that we are on so many people's hearts and minds and most importantly in your prayers really buoys us during these times.

I'm sorry if I don't take the time to answer each e-mail and comment... I'm just way beyond swamped and trying HARD to listen to my Momma's nagging, "Take care of YOURSELF, Jami!" It is hard to keep all these balls in the air AND make sure I am getting a little rest too... So please forgive me if I don't reply to your messages... know that I DO appreciate them and I am FOREVER grateful for your support.

Finally, to the lesson part... I updated my boss this morning and in her reply she said, "I'll bet you wonder what the heck is going on and who to believe?" It got me thinking... I know she meant "who to believe" in reference to which doctor to believe... but the first thing that flew into my mind is I know who to believe.... I believe God... and He says he will never leave me or forsake me... He says He has a plan to give me a hope and a future... He says consider the lilies of the field....

I know who to believe. And I'm believing He will carry us through this yet again.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Hand of God....

We're home... I'm exhausted... I am suffering from a VICIOUS sleep deprivation headache, BUT I have to stay up a little longer to get our comforter out of the dryer (puppy left alone had an accident on our bed). Before I go to bed I wanted to quickly give credit to the Hand of God which was ALL over this most recent chapter in the saga of our life.

1. Atlanta... In August, we made plans for me to take a "women's retreat" to see my brown-skinned Momma in Atlanta. We put it on our calendar, scheduled it with Ros, and started shopping for airplane tickets. Just a few days before I needed to buy my ticket, I started to get this catch in my spirit... This just wasn't the right timing. I told Ros that with how much John's pain had been flaring up, I did not have a peace about flying to Atlanta and leaving him with the children. What if he had a flare up while I was gone? Then a few weeks ago my writing job TANKED out of the blue. I thought, "See! That's what God was protecting me from!" I figured God was protecting me from the "leanness" of our budget. Until Friday night... see my trip was scheduled from Thursday 10/20 to Sunday 10/23. I would have been IN Atlanta when John had the seizure.

2. Jean & Tanisha... Last night as we drove to McDonald's to get dinner, Tanisha said, "I'm just so glad we got home in time." Apparently she and Jean had been out running errands. They arrived home just 10 minutes before John started seizing. If they had not arrived home when they did, Noah would have been handling the situation virtually alone. As it is Noah was very traumatized by what he witnessed. I can only imagine what would have happened if he had been alone.

Besides these two MAJOR examples, there were many, many small things God worked out to bring the best outcome possible for us.

Now I know that some of you may be reading this thinking, "This girl is LOONY!" Her husband just had his second seizure in a year, his fourth hospitalization in just over two years.... his condition is unknown [we're just waiting till Monday to connect with John's neurosurgeon... no answers... no clue...] right now... our future is quite uncertain.

But I am not CRAZY! I saw the Hand of God ALL over this latest episode and it ENCOURAGED me in the midst of my terror... it calmed me in the midst of the storm....

I have NO idea why God is taking us through yet ANOTHER season of this nonsense.... I don't know if my faith needs to be perfected... I don't know if my spirit needs to be broken... I don't know if one of my readers needs to be encouraged by my testimony...I have NO idea... but you know what? I don't have to know WHY I am going through this... I just have to know WHO is taking me through... and He is right by my side... He orchestrated every last detail of this ICKY situation because He had OUR best interests in mind.

Last night when I finally got to the emergency room, Noah came to me and collapsed in my arms.

I said, "Noah, I am SO proud of how you responded today! You were SO brave!"
He said, "But mom I was SO afraid!"
I told him, "Noah, courage is not about whether you were afraid or not. Courage is being afraid and acting anyway."

Tonight I tell you, "Readers... faith isn't about whether you're afraid or not... faith is about trusting God even WHEN you are afraid."

I'm not gonna lie... I am TERRIFIED of the medical cesspool I am swimming in right now... but even though I'm afraid, I trust God. I know His Hand is over me... I know He has me covered.'

Thank you for your prayers! I feel them keeping me strong!

Friday, October 21, 2011

You just never know....

I woke up late this morning... because John didn't have to work, we slept in till nearly 7 which put me 2 hours behind... so I didn't hop in the shower... I just raced downstairs to start my busy work day. John and Noah left right away to meet up with Dave Loftis (John's former Pastor) and then head over to work on his sister's house.

I was busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger in the basement. I had been FLOODED with work Wednesday and Thursday so I was working, working, working.... I laid down next to Hannah to get her to fall asleep and woke up to a call from John. The second he started talking, I could tell something was not right. When I asked, he said, "I just don't feel well." I asked him to explain.... He said his face was tingling and his arm was numb. I had him call Noah over... I asked Noah to have John squeeze both of his hands. Noah started saying, "Daddy... Daddy..." He said, "Mom, Dad's not answering me." A flurry of activity began:

"Auntie Jean's calling 911."
I flew out of bed... started throwing on clothes and shouting to the kids... "Get dressed! We're leaving NOW!"
I headed down the hallway to tell Auntie Marge, "John is being taken to the hospital. We are leaving."
Took a second to text my sister, "It's happening again. John is being 911'd to the hospital. Spread the word and pray!"
As I jetted to the car, snatching my purse from the coat hook, I called the neighbor, "Rushing to the hospital... can you check in on Auntie Marge later?"
Hopped in the car only to have a call from the paramedic, "Mrs. Kastner, can you give us your husband's health history?"
As I rattled off the details I knew by heart, I lost the call. FLIPPIN cell coverage in the boonies!!!
Called the EMTs back... finished the health history. Called my nephew and my sister to get directions to the hospital.
Flying down the country highways.... the gas light turned on! GRRRRR! Really???? Stopped for gas... called John's daughters... took a call from Noah... talked to my sister... called Joe Prag to tell him not to meet John at his sister's this afternoon.... talked to John's mom... talked to my mom... yet STILL I had time left to kill and worries FILLING my head... I called my other sister to gab and have her keep my mind off my worries.


I wanted to scream! I wanted to cry! I wanted to rage at the world! I don't want to do this again! I didn't want to do this tonight (or EVER). I'm tired! It's been a long week!


So here I sit... we've been admitted to the hospital for testing... they think it is a seizure (which was the suspected culprit last year) but they have to do more testing to be sure.

This sure wasn't part of our plan for the weekend... tonight was supposed to be an NCIS marathon... tomorrow Savana's birthday party for the kids while John & I went on a date.... Sunday Amanda & James over for dinner...

Instead it was John's sister and boyfriend, niece and boyfriend, Amanda and James, the kids and I eating McD in the lobby of the emergency room tonight. Tomorrow, the kids will still get to go to Savana's party... doubt John will be released from this place in time for our date.... Noah stayed at the hospital with us (he by the way was VERY freaked out by the entire experience -- praying for God to remove the terrifying memories from his head).

I guess it just goes to show... that you NEVER know what each day will bring... kiss the ones you love... be GLAD if you are at home tonight instead of at the hospital... remember that we are NEVER promised the plans we've made for tomorrow... And just be GRATEFUL for what you have...

I am! I am GRATEFUL that John is in a hospital room instead of the morgue. I am GRATEFUL that my babies have an Oma & Poppa who love them and take them in without a second thought. I am GRATEFUL that I wasn't in Atlanta this weekend like I was supposed to be. I am GRATEFUL that Jean & Tanisha came home just 10 minutes before John's seizure so Noah wouldn't have to handle that alone. I am grateful for neighbors who let out my dog and take care of my aunt. I am grateful for stepdaughters who RUSH to the hospital to help. I am GRATEFUL!!!!!

Have a great night all! Love to all my Facebook friends! (WOW! my FB notifications are INSANE tonight!) our family, our neighbors, our friends... who have COVERED us in a blanket of prayer, rushed in to take care of us, stood on the ready... we literally COULD NOT make it through these things without all of you.  THANKS!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday...

On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for a hardworking husband. (I know I included him in last week's Thankful Thursday so this is kinda cheating to be thankful for him AGAIN, but he really is a GREAT guy who deserves to be blogged about a second time.)

I am thankful that my hubby is HARDWORKING.
I am thankful that my hubby loves so FIERCLY.
I am thankful that my hubby is HOT. (You know you were thinking this too! You just know it isn't appropriate for you to say it!)
I am thankful that my hubby wears these VERY STRONG love goggles... (He thinks I'm just as beautiful as the day we met! REALLY??? do you SEE this gray? have you NOTICED the extra ____ lbs.??? He's crazy but I'm glad!)
I am thankful that my hubby is MINE. God picked the PERFECT person to complete me and I am THANKFUL!

So.... it's Thankful Thursday y'all!  What are YOU thankful for???

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Worship Wednesday: Stronger

[I know it's not Worship Wednesday yet, but it is Worship Wednesday Eve... that counts right?]

So this day has been spiraling downward. Not to be a Polly Pooper, but -- BEWARE! of days that start out a little too good to be true. So I was feeling down in the dumps... discouraged by the lack of writing assignments at Demand Media, downtrodden by thoughts of my nasty vehicular situation, and beaten down by my inability to connect with my honey because of his AWFUL defective HTC phone. Then to top it all off... I started feeling nauseous.... (LOATHE vomiting!) I laid down to rest for a few minutes and awoke still feeling like I was going to blow chunks. I reached deep down in my cheerleading bag of tricks and pulled out my DETERMINATION... you know that stuff I used to use when there were 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter and my team was down by 15 points. I forced myself to make an espresso and sit at the kitchen table doing math with Jeremiah. I did NOT feel like it. I was willing myself not to vomit. I just wanted this day to GO AWAY.

I didn't notice Hannah playing with my phone... [AMAZES me what apps this girl can launch by herself] She launched Pandora and all of a sudden Mandisa's Stronger was POURING out of my phone. (I swore I blogged about Stronger before, but I can't find it. How is it POSSIBLE that I haven't blogged about the one and only Mandisa before???)

Now for those of you who don't know this... I <3 Mandisa! She inspires me! She makes me laugh! I follow her on Twitter and she actually responded to my tweet once! AHHHHHHHHHHH!  Have you ever seen Notting Hill? Where Hugh Grant's sister is that actress with the googly eyes and the red hair that sticks up? When she follows Julia Roberts (who's playing a celebrity in the movie) into the bathroom? Just before that she tells Julia, "I absolutely and totally and utterly adore you and I think you're the most beautiful woman in the world and more importantly I genuinely believe and have believed for some time now that we can be best friends." Well I am the googly eyed redhead to Mandisa's Julia Roberts! I truly believe if we met, Mandisa and I would be BEST friends! [go ahead John J. Kastner... MOCK me... but I think Mandisa could be my friend!]

So anywhoos... besides the fact that I MAJORLY adore Mandisa... this song!  ohhhhhh this song! It reminds me of the DIFFICULTIES of 2009... brain surgery, moving, out of work, BAH! I just LOVE and ADORE it.

And then one more thing... the TIMING! it was PERFECT! Here I am down in the dumps... trying not to puke... wishing it were the end of this awful day... AND my sweet little princess conspires with my celebrity BFF to CHANGE MY DAY! Even Elijah refusing to write the days of the week on his math paper is not irritating me as much as before.

Thank you Mandisa! In the hopes that you can change someone else's day, I'm gonna attempt to embed the video for Stronger here:

Btw... just in case the AMAZING Mandisa stops by this page, when Pandora opened and this album cover came up, Hannah pointed at your picture and said, with awe in her voice, "Mom, she's BEAUTIFUL!" Yups... I know how to pick my friends ;)

[P.S. OHMIGOSH y'all!!!  read the comments! she read it! SEE! I told you! we'll be BFF's some day... maybe not till Heaven but that's okay too]

Soooooo discouraged....

I'm so discouraged right now. I NEED to post something to ONE of my sites to test if I fixed this silly problem with my new homepage... only I have no encouraging remarks to give at this moment in time.

Why does it so often seem you take three steps forward only to get knocked back two steps? ergh! So frustrating!

I supposed I should re-read my own blog and stop #1 and get on with #2 but sometimes #1 is so darn much fun! I'm tired of uncertainty in my job, insecurity in my worth, instability in my LIFE! I just wanna live in Utopia... no stress... no conflict... no jalopies... no work shortages... FLAPJACKS!

Well that's long enough for a test post I suppose....

Nelly Negativity is signing off... heading to find a little caffeine infusion that will change her into Polly Positive.

Peace out....

Words with Friends

I <3 this game!  A little too much I think.... And ever since Words with Friends connected with Facebook I found WAY too many of my FB friends on Words and have WAY too many games in the works at one time!

Anywhoos this morning I was trying to jet through my turn on all of my games... I looked at my tiles with bewilderment... stared at the jam-packed board in confusion... and wondered what in the WORLD I was going to spell with this situation. At that point I had several choices:

1. complain about my bad tiles and the lack of space on the board
2. make do as best I can with what I've been given
3. quit

We have the same choices in life you know. When we are looking at the "Scrabble board" of life with bewilderment. When we're thinking, how in the world am I going to pay the bills with so little money? How in the world am I going to get out of bed with all of this pain? How will I pick up the pieces of my heart and continue on?

We have some choices:

1. complain about our bad lot in life
2. make do as best we can with what we've been given
3. quit

I think most of us pick a combination of 1 and 2. I know I do a lot. This morning, I grumbled my way through an "f", a "g" and a "v" with no e's in sight and settled on "fig" just missing the "triple word" tile, GRRRRR! But I did the best I could with what I was given (after a bit of complaining). There are definitely those who just quit... diving headfirst into a pile of drugs, food, booze.... escaping in whatever way they can.

Here's today's secret:

Life sometimes give you an "f", a "g", and a "v" with NO "e" in sight!!! We don't all end up with viesruq (it spells quivers... for the Words-with-friends-handicapped). But here's the big difference between Words with Friends and this game called life... God's goal for us isn't a HUGE point total at the end. He doesn't want you to die with the most toys, the most children, the most accolades, EVEN the most souls won for Him.... This isn't a competition for who is the best. This game called life is about the journey... It's about stretching that money as far as you can and leaving the rest up to Him. It's about getting out of bed one more morning and gutting your way through the pain. It's about picking up the pieces of your broken heart and giving this ONE MORE CHANCE. It is about what I will do when I'm dealt 5 "i"s an "e" and an "a". It is about how I handle the viersruq and the iieiiai.

It is all about HOW you play the game.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Well, we HAVE a driveway!  A beautiful, paved with asphalt DRIVEWAY!

The asphalt guy called Thursday night to report they were coming on Friday, and the kids and I spent at least 3 to 5 minutes jumping up and down and cheering, "Asphalt tomorrow! Asphalt tomorrow!"  It was EXCITING!

The next morning we arose and the momma had a GREAT idea! Drop all planned lessons and turn this asphalt into a project... One great learning experience.... Only I didn't know that God had a lesson planned for me too.

On WONDERFUL Wednesday, the men arrived to grade the driveway. They scooped it out, flattened it to even and packed it down tight. By Thankful Thursday, we already had a gorgeous, flat dirt driveway. But since flat dirt does not last long, we needed more. On Friday.... OH FRIDAY...

I watched the men pour the steaming hot blacktop onto our driveway,

scrape it flat with a BIG ugly machine

and then press it down tight with a HEAVY steamroller.

As you saw in my very first picture, the results were beautiful! [and functional too]

As this process unfolded in front of my eyes I saw an analogy forming. This driveway paving project made me think of the struggles we endure in life. See sometimes WE are my driveway... full of fissures, pot holes, and bare spots. When people come in contact with us they have to bounce along over the flaws, hanging on for dear life to avoid being hurt.

Every once in a while we come to the realization that we need some work. We might pray a furtive, "God, give me patience." or "Lord, I want to trust you more." Sometimes someone else prays the prayer, "Father, get a hold of my daughter's heart!" or "Jesus, PLEASE change my spouse."

In He comes with His shovels and rakes, flattening out the rough patches and evening out our landscape. This part isn't too uncomfortable. You know the part where He reveals to us, "It is YOU being selfish." or "You don't have RIGHT motives." how bout "Your spending habits are out of whack." or "You should NOT be in relationship with that person." It's uncomfortable, humbling, maybe a little embarrassing. But at the end of it we are flattened out, smooth, functional. We don't hurt people as much with our flaws fixed by the grace of God.

He could just leave us like that... a dirt road, flat and functional... but if He did, it really wouldn't last long. The rain would reform the gulleys, the wind would blow away the dirt, eventually we'd be right back to where we were in the first place.

It is smarter if He sends in the asphalt guys. Ya, that's the PAINFUL part. Hot, steaming asphalt poured on top of us... job eliminated, child sick, car broken down.... The asphalt is scraped flat and pressed down nice and tight. It isn't fun. It is PAINFUL! All that black hot asphalt of affliction... the scraping away until it is nice and flat... and then as if to add insult to injury the steamroller comes out and rolls over and over and OVER us.

Right now we're in the place where our cars are parked on the road. We have to let the blacktop settle a little before we can drive on it. Struggles are that way too. I find at the end of a really rough patch where God has flattened me out and laid some asphalt on top of what He was teaching me, He typically puts up a little rope and flag barrier at the end to keep troubles away for a short season. [sometimes so short that if I blink I miss it!]

In the end, the Kastner family ended up with a BEAUTIFUL and FUNCTIONAL new driveway... solid and firm... able to withstand the weather, the traffic, the skateboards, bikes and bouncing balls....

In the end, you will end up with a BEAUTIFUL and FUNCTIONAL spirit... solid and firm... able to withstand the trials, the everyday traffic....

If God's paving you today, hang on. Let Him work. It may inconvenience you, cause you pain, smell kinda bad but in the end the results will be BEAUTIFUL.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday....

Yesterday as I was running the marathon of midweek services carpool (I so did NOT miss my calling as a soccer mom), Jeremiah was ruminating on his favorite holiday.

He said, "Mom, wanna know what my favorite holiday is?"
I said, "Sure Jeremiah."
He replied, "It's a tie between Christmas - cuz that's when Jesus was born, and Easter - because that's when he rose from the dead."

[THAT child! Oh heavenly day! he grabs my gut almost every time he opens his mouth!]

I told him those were great choices, and then revealed my favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving, because I love being thankful. A short while later (alone in the van for a few brief moments) "Thankful Thursdays" popped into my head.  What a GREAT idea! Why wait to be thankful only one day a year???  So a new tradition is born. To start us out, I am posting

Top Ten Things I am Thankful for this Thursday

1. Jesus... my Jesus... He will always be the #1 thing I am thankful for. He makes ALL of the rest of these thankful things possible. He carries me when I'm weak. He holds me when I'm sad. He cheers me when I'm weary. What else can I say? I am thankful for Jesus!

2. John Joseph Kastner... What an amazing man! Really!  He IS! Hardworking, dedicated, fierce... the yin to my yang... I am thankful for John Joseph Kastner!

3. my babies... oh my babies! these children push me to my limits... they test me, try me and purify my faith.... they inspire me, encourage me and LOVE me... my children are definitely my treasure. I am thankful for my children!

4. asphalt... I am thankful for this wonderful thing called asphalt... yesterday our driveway was graded and then a nifty steamroller came and packed it down (the kids are LOVING having Bob the Builder in our front yard I tell you!) and within the next few days... ASPHALT will be poured, rolled, shoveled (I don't know or really care how they get it on there all I know is they will GET IT ON THERE!) onto our driveway. I am thankful for asphalt!

keep rollin, rollin, ROLLIN!

5. Demand Media.... in spite of the drama and the DRASTIC slow down in title availability, it is an AMAZING opportunity which has jump started my freelance writing career and for that I am grateful. I am thankful for Demand Media!

6. my new duster... this one may seem silly to you, but my allergies have been AWFUL lately. I am pretty sure it is because I haven't dusted since... ummmm idk Spring???  so last night at Walmart I bought the most AMAZING duster! under $3... it has a REMOVABLE, WASHABLE microstatic dust cover thingy... So I don't have to buy pricey refills!!!  I'm pretty sure its my favorite purchase this fall! As an added side-benefit, it has me feeling quite eco-friendly... It is EASY being green today! I am thankful for my new duster!

Look at all that DUST already!

7. cool bulletin board... One man's trash SURELY is another man's treasure! My mom did some de-cluttering and look what I got! I just love the organizational spirit behind a bulletin board! Isn't it awesome? This pic is from when we first hung it... it's MUCH fuller now... Every time I walk by it, I smile a little bit. I am thankful for my cool bulletin board.

8. my mom is HOME from Rwanda... My mom spent nearly two weeks in Rwanda ministering to the orphans and widows who are suffering from war and genocide. It was life changing and AWESOME for her and I'm glad she went, but I'm thankful my mom is HOME from Rwanda!

9. coffee... what kind of a thankful list would this be without coffee??? I have a brand new favorite mug (another one of my Momma's castoffs) and some coffee all the way from Rwanda... although truthfully haven't been able to use the coffee yet... have to get my hands on a coffee grinder (Walmart didn't have any... grrrr!) Still... I am thankful for coffee!

10. homeschooling... I am so grateful that I get to homeschool my babies. It is the BEST, most challenging thing I have ever done, and I wouldn't trade it for the world! Not gonna lie, every once in awhile I log onto the Mayville School District's website to see when "real school" starts and ends... (just dreaming y'all!) but in spite of the struggles I am SO glad I homeschool! (If you're interested, hop on over to my homeschooling blog to learn more.) I am thankful for homeschooling!

Thus ends our very first Thankful Thursday. I'd love it if you'd play along. You don't have to list 10 things, but maybe you could take a second to quickly post a comment? just ONE thing you are thankful for today... c'mon! I'm sure you can come up with ONE!

Quick comment tutorial for the comment-impaired:

1. See that gray box down there? it is underneath my pink signature... a little further... underneath that row of pictures entitled "You might also like"... In that box it says "0 comments"... click on THAT!

2. In the box under "Leave your comment" type just ONE thing you are thankful for

3. Choose an identity... (anonymous is a PERFECTLY valid choice!)

4. Click on "Publish your comment"

5. Do not be alarmed that your comment doesn't show up right away... I have it set up so all comments require approval.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A GREAT day to wake up!!!

This morning I woke up to random men standing in my driveway. That may not seem like a GREAT way to wake up, but hang on until the end of the story, you will see how great it was. I rolled out of bed, located my glasses, threw on the first jacket I could find to cover my pjs [found $10 in the pocket! WOOT! WOOT! It IS gonna be a GREAT day!], threw a mint in my mouth [GOLLY my morning breath is BAD when I actually sleep at night!], and headed out to see what was up.

With my bleary, sleep-clouded eyes I could not read the words on the side of the trucks, but I could tell it had to do with my driveway. You know about my driveway right?  It first burst onto the scene of My Life as a Lesson way back in 2009, when we first moved in and John had to have brain surgery. It plays a quite notable place in my life. [If you have ever seen it, you know why...] I have mentioned it on this blog at least 10 times.

Every time it rains, a little more of our driveway washes away. Before this morning we had a rut down the east side of our driveway that looked like a fault line in a low-budget earthquake movie.

Our landlord told us this spring that he was just going to get some quotes for blacktop and have it paved in the fall, but over the summer we learned the blacktop prices were pretty high, and he wasn't sure it was going to happen this year.

So when I walked out there I was sure the guys were going to say they were laying down another layer of stone, which in and of itself would be GREAT! When the first guy I reached said, we're getting ready to blacktop the driveway. I looked at him in shock! The next guy confirmed his assertion, but STILL I made the boss guy tell me again! I swear I wanted to plant a big wet kiss on each of those asphalt guys! OHMIGOSH! We're getting blacktop! We're getting blacktop! We're getting BLACKTOP!

It is like Christmas in October around here and I literally can't stop the jumping up and down feeling inside my heart!

Don't worry.... there's a lesson coming....

Remember when you were that excited over God? Remember when He came into your life and forgave your sins and saved your soul from a fiery eternity in the pit of hell? Remember when he miraculously provided (for that car, that house, that bill)? Remember when he got your husband through brain surgery, carried your child through chemotherapy, provided those "benign" test results?

This jumping up and down feeling inside of me keeps reminding me that EVERY SINGLE day I should feel like that! Every single day is a GREAT day to wake up! I don't need random dudes in my driveway blacktopping it for this day to be GREAT! God loves me! Jesus saved me from my sin! I have a place in Heaven that NO ONE and NOTHING can take away!

It is a GREAT day to wake up!  Hope you can see that too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Be careful little eyes what you see....

Do you remember singing this song as a child???

Be careful little eyes what you see.
Be careful little eyes what you see.
Cuz the Father up above is looking down in love so,
Be careful little eyes what you see.

Idk if "Be careful little mouth what you speak" was a real verse; however, it is the verse that has been ringing in my head lately.

See I've realized that these four gorgeous beings I gave birth to are like little TAPE RECORDERS. They parrot back the things I have said to them with STUNNING accuracy (now do they actually apply the ones like, "Close the fridge!" "Rinse your dishes." "Wash your hands." not so much...), but they hear and remember.... typically the things I either didn't know they were listening to or that I wish they hadn't heard.

This morning Jeremiah said to Elijah, "Lying is like slapping God in the face. Mom TOLD me that!"

I thought, That's actually good! but when in the WORLD did I say that???

Other occurrences as of late have just really been bringing to the forefront of my mind that the words I speak are powerful and I need to be CAREFUL how I wield them.

However, there's another verse to this song too....

Be careful little ears what you hear
Be careful little ears what you hear

Sometimes that verse is EASILY applied. Recently Hannah came around the corner singing lyrics to a Katy Perry song... the application of which COMPLETELY escaped her, but hearing those words from my innocent princess's mouth was JUST enough to get me to turn THAT song off next time it came on the radio (or on Glee).

Sometimes it is not so easy. This past summer, I've been REALLY forced to teach my children to be CAREFUL how they hear other people. Sometimes they get stuck in this mentality that says, "I know what he meant!" They are often running up to me and saying, "I know he MEANT to hurt me. I know he MEANT to say (or do) that." I have another saying for those times, "You cannot know another man's heart."

It is SO true. Often I think we take offense, make judgments, assume hurts when the other person NEVER, EVER in a million years meant the word or action the way we interpreted it. I am a FIRM believer in the fact that we are responsible not just for the words we say but for the delivery of those words as well. If I say something that hurts or offends someone, even if I did NOT intend it the way it was taken, I am RESPONSIBLE for the hurt I caused.  However, I also believe in what my sister and I call "assuming benevolent intent." My sister Jodi and I frequently converse about the fact that we are BOUND by Christ's blood to assume that someone did NOT mean anything mean, vicious or sinful with their words until we have confirmation FROM THE PERSON that they meant that. When we feel hurt, we aim to assume benevolent (good, painless, harm-free) intent.

I try hard to teach my children this by following up the, "You cannot know another person's heart." message by telling them it is their JOB as a Christian to assume the best in people. That is WHAT Jesus would do.

My challenge to you today is to pick up these glasses I am extending to you. They are glasses that view the world as NOT out to get them. They are glasses that ALWAYS assumes the best in people. They are glasses that view hurt as UNINTENTIONAL. They are glasses that protect your eyes from seeing faults and slights until it is CONFIRMED that they were intended. They are glasses that help you ASSUME BENEVOLENT INTENT.

These glasses aren't that easy to wear. This world is FULL of people who are self-centered, crass and even CRUEL. But I believe these glasses help us to see people (and situations) the way Christ wants us to see them. Because more often than not, when wearing them, I see that people are more guilty of thoughtlessly choosing words or mis-speaking than they are of lying, slandering or trying to hurt me.

Be careful little eyes what you see.
Be careful little eyes what you see.
Cuz the Father up above is looking down in love so,
Be careful little eyes what you see.

Now, I gotta run. I gotta put MY glasses back on and then go apologize to my hubby for looking at him this morning before I had them properly in place.

Love y'all!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The application of my posts....

Yesterday I got an e-mail about my What ifs... post. As I read it I started to feel a bit of disappointment settle on my shoulders because the person had focused on something that wasn't really my point at all. When all of a sudden it hit me!  HARD!

It is okay if seven different people get seven different applications from my writing. I am NOT the one in control of what comes out of these fingers of mine. I write what's on my heart. I write what God is walking me through, and HE applies it to your here and now. All of a sudden I realized that it is GOOD if someone comments on or highlights a point I never intended, because that shows me that God is working. And if I wrote in such a way that EVERYONE only got MY intended purpose, then not nearly as many people would be touched by the words on this site.

Then I started wondering... how much of the rest of our life is tinged by that? I read the book Heaven is For Real this summer on the badgering urging of my mother. She wanted me to read it because it gave her such real and vivid visions of what Heaven will be like. I read it, thoroughly enjoyed it, BAWLED like a baby through it, but almost none of my enjoyment and bawling had to do with Heaven. Almost none of my "Aha!" moments came from the parts about Heaven. You know what hit me? You know what ministered to me? The similarities of that family to Job. The way thing after thing after THING kept happening to them, and they kept plodding on. That's what hit me. See as I read that book, I RELATED to their story. I could feel their pain. I know the pain of walking through the valley of Chiari Malformation, financial destitution, moving FAR away from loved ones, my life FALLING apart, all within the span of a few short months. Therefore, I bawled like a baby because I felt I had found some kindred spirits, a story I could relate to, company in my loneliness. Was that the thesis of this book? Nope. Was that the story the authors aimed to tell? Nope. But guess what it was the part that hit ME.

The point of my writing, the point of our lives, the point of our ministry isn't OUR AIM... It is just simply that people are touched. It isn't about the message I am trying to convey. It is about the message that God is bringing home to each and every individual reader. This isn't MY blog. It is God's. My job is simply to write what is on my heart. It is His job to apply some part to your individual situation.

So go ahead... glean WHATEVER you want from this post... I'm just grateful that you glean.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What ifs...

I got a random anonymous comment the other day. It was tinged with a bit of bitterness and COMPLETELY not attached to the correct post. Just so you know I don't post every comment. I won't post stuff that is angry, mean or bitter, but more importantly I strive to protect my blog readers from looking silly. If someone posts something off the wall or that doesn't at all apply to the post at hand, I just don't approve it. But I wonder about it. I get a little agitated about it.

See I am a PEOPLE PLEASER extraordinaire. I want EVERYONE in this whole wide world to like me AND to approve of me. So I wonder a little.... is this comment from someone I know personally and are they bitter with ME? is this comment because I am not a good enough writer so I failed to properly convey my thoughts? is this comment just a fluke?  But see even if it is just a fluke, I can learn a lesson....

This specific random comment that did not apply to the post it was attached to got me thinking.... what if? what if the purpose of this blog isn't what I think it is? What I purpose in my own heart for this blog is a bit ecclectic... this blog is my therapy... this blog keeps me accountable... this blog is my ministry... and this blog has an ulterior motive as well:  building a platform to eventually get published.  But what if NONE of those is God's purpose for this blog?

What if this blog is to shape me? To give me thicker skin and help me stop worrying so much about what others think of me?

What if this blog isn't to get me published so hundreds of thousands can read my work but is so just ONE person can stumble on this blog and be changed?

Hang on with me a second because this applies to YOU too.  I think often in life OUR WAYS ARE NOT HIS WAYS... and while we may have an understanding of PART of His purpose we sometimes miss the whole picture.

***What if your marriage isn't just to make you happy and fulfill you but to mold you and make you more like Christ?
***What if homeschooling your children isn't just about giving them an education but is also about teaching you patience, endurance or organizational skills?
***What if that mission trip your going on isn't all about spreading God's word but is also about changing your heart?
***What if that move you made isn't just financially wise but is also emotionally and relationally (spell check doesn't like that word but TOUGH!) wise?
***What if your new job isn't about more money or more power but is about influencing different people for Christ?

Sometimes we get so focused on OUR ways that we miss a little of HIS ways. That doesn't mean we don't do some good. I am trying HARD to minister to you my readers in this blog and that is good, but I sometimes get discouraged when I feel like no one is reading or when I don't have any comments or when I get off-the-wall comments... However, what if MANY aren't supposed to be reading. What if I'm missing HIS goal? What if this whole entire 2 1/2 years worth of blogging is all about changing ONE PERSON... maybe me? maybe you? maybe someone who has yet to even stumble on this blog? who knows, but by opening myself up and asking what HIS purpose is for this blog I think I will be more effective in writing it.

Here's what I want you all to do... open your eyes and your hearts... ask God what HIS purpose is for your current situation. He is faithful, and I believe He will show you the answers if you just ask.

SIDE NOTE: Your opinion matters! I have changed up the color scheme a little, increased the font size, and made the post font less fancy ALL based upon reader feedback. If there's something else you think could make this blog more user friendly, drop me a line. Sorry I didn't move the music player.  It is down there specifically because I want its appearance to be "in the background." Possibly consider muting your speakers if you are reading this at work??? Not that you would EVER do that. :)
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