Sunday, November 27, 2011


God has been teaching me a lot through this most recent series of troubles. See I think regardless of the reason WHY I am going through this (if there is a sin God is trying to weed out of my heart, if my faith is being tested, if there is someone in my life who needs to see me go through this so they can weed out a sin or have their faith tested...) there is ALWAYS at least one thing that I can glean from my trials. Whether that thing is the primary reason for my struggle or just a secondary lesson doesn't matter at all. Being the kind of person who CONSTANTLY asks, "God, what can I learn here?" That is what matters.

Because of the answer I have received to the "God what can I learn here?" question, I have several confessions to make.

Somewhere deep in my heart I still believe that if I follow the rules, life should go my way.  In spite of the fact that I see MULTIPLE examples in scripture that prove this to be a fallacy: Jesus, Job, Paul... I still think that if I love God and serve Him wholeheartedly, if I take care of the sick and elderly, if I give the shirt off my back to those in need, then I should just skip down a rose-lined path without a care on my mind. The problem is... for those roses along the path to grow, there needs to be a little rain. Because I have yet to root out this false belief from my heart, when the rain falls I feel challenged, chastised, discouraged.

I have too much on my plate. (Many of you are right now going, "DUH! We knew that all along!" Here's the thing. I know it too. I've known it all along as well. The problem is there is not much that I feel I can scooch off my plate. And some of the things that well-meaning people in my life have suggested I scooch off wouldn't actually make my plate any emptier... they would just fill it with a different thing.) Because I have too much on my plate, the smallest addition to my plate results in chaos. Remember a few days ago at Thanksgiving? You had that plate FILLED with goodies: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes covered in gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce. At one point, your plate was FULL... not a smidgen of white visible. Imagine if you had taken your fork and scooched clear a little space. Just a TEENY tiny space for that yummy look jello your Great Aunt brought. What would have happened? CHAOS! Yummy turkey, piping hot potatoes and scrumptious stuffing would be all over the floor! There is only SO much room on your plate and if you scooch a clear spot for jello... something is going to fall over the edge.  My life is that plate:  laden with homeschooling, telecommuting, elder caregiving, sick husband transporting, cheerleading coaching.... If I try to scooch a clear spot for a broken refrigerator, CHAOS abounds!

This weekend my parents took us all on Haugh Holiday. We went to Green Lake and stayed at the Heidel House (BEAUTIFUL resort, GORGEOUS grounds, GREAT amenities, COURTEOUS staff). We started Thursday with a Thanksgiving buffet. The way I tackled that buffet is (I think) the solution to a plate that is too full (in life and at Thanksgiving dinner). Some in our party went through the buffet line trying to get everything they wanted in one trip. I took a different approach. I went up, took a salad plate, and made myself a salad. Then I returned to the table to consume my salad. Next, I went for a hot plate, filled it with meat, vegetables, and stuffing. Returned to enjoy that. Finally, I headed for the dessert table.  I'm still not POSITIVE how this translates into real life, but I think it looks something like this:  one day at a time... one task at a time... slow down... risk being consumed by the fires burning all around and tackle one segment of life at a time.

I don't know where this train is taking us, but I trust the conductor. I can't see down the road. I don't know how this two more months of driving John around is going to pan out. I can't see how this STUPID refrigerator nonsense will be resolved. I can't tell you how all these messes in my life will be tidied up. But I TRUST THE CONDUCTOR. So hard as it is, I am trying to just relax in my seat, doing my part (and my part alone) while He does His job of keeping this train on track.

I hope these ramblings ministered to someone today. You know even if they didn't, this was an exercise in obedience for me. God wanted me to publicly admit these things and I have done my part.

This morning, I begged God to forgive me for my doubt, for the false beliefs I have held onto, for my inability to submit to what He is doing here. I am now begging Him to FILL ME with more of Him. So that I have the strength to tackle this crazy life of mine one plate at a time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful list....

Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving! My FAVORITE time of the year! I love to be thankful and this year I AM thankful!  So this year instead of being verbose and eloquent, I'm just making a list.  A thankful list....

*John J. Kastner
*Noah J. Kastner
*Jeremiah D. Kastner
*Elijah D. Kastner
*Hannah E. Kastner
*Amanda & James Starkweather
*Amber Kastner (btw... HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHOUT OUT TO MY BEAUTIFUL 21-year old step-daughter!)
*my mom
*my dad
*my sisters and my brother
*my mother-in-law
*my friends who are always there with a listening ear
*my cheerleaders
*my Bible
*being a wife
*being a mom
*working from home
*homeschooling my children
*coaching cheer again
*my health
*Haugh Holiday
*turkey and mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce
*5/6 Boys Basketball at HCS
*my trials, which are building perseverance and making me mature and complete not lacking anything
*living in a free country that has people willing to sacrifice there lives to keep us safe (like my baby brother!)
*Jesus Christ my Savior, my Lord and my BFF

[I'm sure there's more but I have to get GOING. We leave for Haugh Holiday in 2 1/2 hours and I'm not even PACKED!]

May you have a BLESSED Thanksgiving filled with good food, fellowship and fun. May God remind you today of all the things you have to be thankful for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Maniacal laughter...

There comes a point.... past the slough of suffering.... beyond the trail of tragedy... far, FAR down the peak of excruciating pain, even a few steps past the distant dark of discouragement.... I like to refer to it as the mountain of maniacal laughter. This place is reached only after so much has gone wrong that it becomes comical. You can't even cry over your troubles. All that is left is to laugh like a maniac because most would not even BELIEVE what you have laboriously walked through is even true.

I reached this precipice tonight. It was after yestetday's refrigerator debaucle. Long past our brush with yet ANOTHER craigslist scam. Even after complete CHAOS threatened to make null and void a VITAL contract I had entered into. The maniacal laughter started after John reported not only did the doctor refuse to shorten the ban on him driving... but He actually EXTENDED it. EXTENDED IT!!!

I'm at that point.... the trials of my life don't even seem BELIEVABLE anymore! I mean who has TWO brand new appliances fail COMPLETELY when they are less than 18 months old? Who drives her husband 30 miles one way to reach the BUS STOP to get to work? Who barely escapes her SECOND brush with a scam on craigslist? Who does these things???? Jami Lynn Kastner... that's who.

Now you may think the maniacal laughter means I have gone crazy... but tonight I recognized it for what it really is... And the realization brought more laughter. I have been trying to figure out how I am going to do all of this.... how I will get John to work an hour away.... how I will make do until the fridge gets fixed.... how I will deal with this and that .... tonight I just started laughing when I realized... I CAN'T. I just CAN'T. this one is ALL God's. The ball is in His court, and if He wants John & me to make it through the next 2 months of John being unable to drive then HE will have to carry us through it. He will have to reveal some pretty crazy miracles. He will have to make a way when there seems to be no way.

I think the laughter comes in because I'm like... really Jami? It took you this long? It took this many things before you would finally LET GO and realize the One you serve didn't bring you to these herculean circumstances to watch you fight through them on your own... He brought you to this place to do MIGHTY things THROUGH you. So step out of the way and stop trying to DO IT! You are messing everything up! Let Him do it.

And I will. I'm laying down my tools. I'm done trying to figure this out. One day... one minute at a time.... I will just keep plodding on. I don't have to know how we are going to get there.... I just have to let Him navigate.

Stay tuned y'all. I just have a feeling that we are all about to witness SOME KIND OF show here in the Kastner household! Because in order for this to work out, God will need SOME kind of fireworks show.

God bless you tonight! May you too realize that He is in control. May you let Him navigate the way for you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

When it feels like God is late...

Before I even start, let me please make it CLEAR:  I know that God's timing is not our timing. I know that He has not dropped the ball. I know that He is still in control.

But sometimes it FEELS like God is late. It feels like He should have stepped in weeks, months or even years ago. It feels like SURELY He has lost track of all the things currently heaped on one person's shoulders. It feels like He lost track.

I have been PRAYING! I have been BEGGING for prayer and I KNOW others are praying too... yet still here we sit.. nothing changes but for the worse.

I know all the Christianese for my situation: I know I need to hang on. I know I need to trust God. I know I need to consider the lilies of the valley....

I also know that I have been BEGGING God to let me catch just ONE title to write about for MONTHS now... nada. I also know that I have been trusting Him to bring GOOD out of John's most recent medical woes... nopes! Nothing but negative ramifications raining down on us from that. I know that every single stinking place I turn there is NOTHING but broken down, negative, NONSENSE coming my way.

This morning I woke up to the refrigerator incessantly beeping. This is a NEW fridge... just THREE WEEKS out of warranty. And it is DEAD. Won't cool anything... won't stop beeping... I was able to get the manufacturer to cover the service and repair it under warranty; HOWEVER, they aren't even coming for the service call until Tuesday (and then who knows how long till the parts come in)... What in the WORLD? What is up with us? We just have the WORST luck ever and I can't figure it out! This fridge is new and in 13 months it has NEVER caused us even ONE problem... Yet now... right NOW with John still unable to drive, my "layoff" from freelancing starting to squeeze us, and my schedule so full I have NO wiggle room... NOW I get to figure out how to CHEAPLY feed a family of 7 without a refrigerator. The timing on this couldn't be worse and I just want to know WHEN? God WHEN will you step in and help me out????

I have been crying much of the day.. this may seem like just a stupid refrigerator but I am TIRED and WEARY and fed up with being the poster child for Trials R Us!

I have been trying for the past month to weather this with grace and godliness. I haven't fretted or worried... I keep trusting that God is going to figure this out... that He will make a way when there seems to be no way, but I am DONE now... I can't keep believing that everything is going to be "okay" when quite CLEARLY it is not.  I know in my head that He is not late, but right now I feel like God has forgotten me.... like He doesn't remember that I already have a HEAVY load on my shoulders and I don't need anymore burdens to carry. I know that's not right but I also know that is what I feel. Defeated... Discouraged... Hopeless...

I want to believe that He's gonna rescue us but I'm just not sure I can.

So what do you do when it feels like God is late?  On the way into town today, I just kept chanting to myself, "I love God. I love God. I love God." I couldn't make it past that... One thing I know is I LOVE GOD... I suppose nothing else matters much.

I think often of that scene in Facing the Giants when the coach's wife is struggling with her infertility issues and she keeps saying, "I will still love you, God." I am SO there.... I am at the end of me... my hopes and dreams lie dashed on the rocks, but I WILL still love Him... no matter what.

Friday, November 11, 2011


For Lori Brady and to remind myself...  We just might bend girl but we WON'T BREAK!!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

At the end of me....

I have been resisting blogging about this because I'm just not even sure what to say or how to say it. To some extent it all sounds like a broken record... and I'm not sure why anyone would even want to read more of it. I know I am sick of living it... so I don't blame you if you're sick of reading it. But I have to blog it because ALL STINKING DAY, God has been pressing on me to BLOG this!  Grrrrrr!!!!!

When John was last in the hospital and in the subsequent doctor's appointments when we were told he would be out of work for two weeks and unable to drive for four more weeks, I was bound and DETERMINED to handle this most recent medical nightmare like a champ! I knew in my head that God was going to get us through this. I remembered He had gotten us through impossible situations at least three times in the past 2 years. I believed in my heart He was gonna come through again. Therefore, because of my knowledge and belief, I so desperately wanted to do this one in a way that would make my Heavenly Daddy proud. No tears... No questions... No worries.... Just pure childlike faith that He would carry me.

About 2 1/2 weeks into this, it almost feels as if I am being punished for that desire. It is like Satan said, "Fine! If that doesn't make you worry, I'll give you a little more! What??? That isn't bringing the tears? How about this? Ha! I will get YOU yet! I will throw this dart at you!"

I am literally and truly and completely at the end of myself, and I know in my heart that this is where I find God. I know this is the BEST place to be because at the end of me is when He can finally work, but y'all I just don't know how much longer I can do my part anymore.

1. I am TIRED. bone-weary, achingly at the end of myself TIRED. I cannot count how many times I've cried this week... or even today... out of just SHEER exhaustion! My plate was always quite full and now adding an extra 2 hours of driving to it each day threatens to overturn the whole apple cart from its precarious perch (forgive me for the mixing of my metaphors... did I already mention: I'M TIRED!!!!)

2. I am WEARY of fighting and believing and persevering!  For example, let me just share one hour of my day with you. In the midst of participating in the annual benefits enrollment for MU, John and I came to the realization that our premium will be going up by $108 per month next year! WOWZER! "That was a sucker punch to the gonads!" (name that movie and you get a bonus point) As I was reeling from the implications and thinking, "How are we going to absorb THAT on the heels of losing a 3rd of our income due to the Great Tanking of Demand Media (if you haven't read the hoopla about that you're likely not a freelance writer)." When all of a sudden Noah brought in the mail, which revealed that the insurance company was denying nearly $2K in charges from Hannah's surgery in August. I called them, trying to maintain my composure... only to find that those denied charges were for the part where the doctor did the scraping of that rash Hannah had so that she wouldn't have to face a SECOND surgery in the future. I was terrified and about to vomit when they said there "was no pre-certification for that". I sat on hold for AT LEAST 10 minutes nauseous and churning. But don't worry the story has a happy ending.... after I provided the details they approved the claim... However, the damage the stress did to my heart, my body, and my spirit had already been done.  I feel like a boxer getting pummeled and just trying to make until the bell signals the end of the round. I am just WEARY... in fact as I just told my friend, I need a new word for weary that means MEGA weary... like way far beyond exhausted... past depleted... but not quite to dead... what's the word for that??? coma?

I guess by this point you are getting the fact that I'm begging for more prayers.... I know in my heart that even if I don't feel Him here at the end of me, He is here. I know in my heart that even if it seems like He missed His cue to intervene, He is not late. I know in ever fiber of my being HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN ME! But if I'm being gut-level honest, it sure doesn't feel that way.

Yesterday I retweeted Joyce Meyer:

It's easy to quit -- it takes faith to go through.

I'm trying y'all!  I promise I am trying to go through. And I'm not giving up. But if I'm being gut-level honest, I sure do want to.

Prayers MUCH appreciated!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Could you please pray for me???

I don't mean just for "US" over here. I'm actually asking for prayer for me... myself... It's nothing earth-shattering. It appears for the time being my hubby's brain is holding steady. Nothing is really "in the toilet"... But here's the deal:

1. I'm tired. I'm really, really, really tired. I decided yesterday that I'm not tired from the fact that I am again carrying the load of this entire family on just my back. [No offense to the guys out there, but let's all just be real: The mom typically carries most of the load anyway.] I realized that it isn't the carrying of John's share that is wearing me out. It is the fact that he CANNOT help me. It is the knowledge that when I run out of steam and the last drop is gone he can't pick up where I left off. Don't get me wrong, he has worked himself up to doing some stuff around here: laundry (what a folding maniac! you should have seen the living room on Sunday!), dishes, being the heavy with getting the kids back on schedule with school (just a FEW days off cuz daddy had a seizure and they are all kitty wambus!), and on Sunday night he stayed up and got the kids to bed. I got more sleep then I normally get in TWO nights (so much that I'm embarrassed to admit the exact number here on this forum)... So he's helping, BUT for example: the same Freecycler who gave us Kiah has some computers to get rid of. The kids DESPERATELY need a computer in their school station! She promised to hold them for us... I just need to get out there and get them. But I don't know how to fit in the one hour round trip to West Bend, and I can't ask John to do it cuz he can't drive. And it is only beginning... we have 5 more weeks of this!

2. I am DISCOURAGED about my writing. (Yes I purposely capitalized that word to try to show the depth of my discouragement.) I am so very discouraged. Maybe I'm not supposed to be a writer. Maybe I'm not gonna get published. Maybe God doesn't have something special for me to say. Sure my dad said the other day, "You're the best undiscovered writer I know." But I'm pretty sure they told John he had to say those kinds of things too when he got his "Father Badge." I'm going to tell you a secret: I'm writing a manuscript. I'm trying to finish it in time to submit it to the Women of Faith Writing Contest. (No, I'm not going to tell you what it is about yet.) When I started it about 3 1/2 weeks ago, I felt God was CALLING me to write it. Then John had a seizure, adding further confirmation that THIS topic was what I was supposed to write about. Now, I'm just discouraged.... my Demand Studios writing has TANKED. I've written TWO articles in the past three weeks. I used to average 25 - 35 a week. There is NO work to be had there. I have searched for other freelancing opportunities but haven't found any yet. I haven't written anymore of my manuscript since before John had the seizure. I don't have much time to blog right now. I just keep thinking maybe I misheard God. Maybe I wasn't supposed to start a platform with this blog and publish a book that would minister to people. *sigh*

So could you please pray for me? I would really appreciate it. I have my first official meeting with my new cheerleaders this Friday. The kids are finishing up swim and then diving RIGHT into basketball. John returns to work next Monday (I think we have a carpool worked out but please keep that in your prayers too... organizing and executing that is going to be FUN.) Elijah and Hannah are both sick. If you could lift me up in prayer today I would really appreciate it.

Thanks everyone!
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