Monday, September 24, 2012

Storms of life.....

A front of HEAVY storms rolled through our lives this weekend. There were scattered patches of VERY bright sunshine, BUT the storms were SEVERE and left a bit of destruction in their wake. Mostly they left me wishing... Oh how I wish there was a meteorological way to predict Satan's attacks a way to see when the storms of life are coming my way. Because if I knew there was a storm on the horizon, then maybe I could better prepare myself. I've been pondering that this morning and God brought three things to mind:

1. Pop Quiz - the trials of this life are like a pop quiz. The whole POINT of a pop quiz is to TEST if you are prepared. Therefore, ALWAYS be prepared. Soak yourself in scripture. Surround yourself with praise music. Pray CONTINUALLY. You don't have to know when the storms are coming to be better prepared for the trials of life.

2. Sunshine in the Rain - if you keep your eyes open, there is always sunshine poking through the rain. You might not see it at first. But it is there. It IS there. My ick of Friday night to Saturday was followed by a BEAUTIFUL spot of sunshine Saturday afternoon (see above link). Then Saturday night some REALLY bad ICK before Sunday dawned a BEAUTIFUL day\. One more time Sunday night got rocky again. The point is: Soak in the Son's rays during the beautiful times to help fortify you for when the storm winds blow.

3. Stay Safe - During a storm is not the time to be going for a run, trimming your bushes or cleaning the garage. During a storm, you should hunker down and try to stay safe from the ravages of the wind and rain. Yesterday was a BUSY day. I worked feverishly all day to get my meals ready for the busy start to our week. In the middle of that, John started feeling a flare-up coming on. I immediately curtailed my plans: changed mashed potatoes for dinner to baked, scrapped making the batch of sugar cookies I had yet to get to, and delegated the dishes to the boys. I needed to hunker down and survey the progress of the storm. I am happy to say that a little rest should be all it will take to get John back up and running, but I'm not sure that would have been the case if I had foolishly plowed ahead with my work. Be smart when trials come so you can stay safe through the storm.

I have to cut this blog a little short because I have a hubby home with a neck flare-up, a baby with an ear infection, and 2 pre-teen boys who will NOT get out of bed this morning. Whether the storms of life are on your horizon or not, I pray that God shows Himself to you in a new way today!

God bless!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A perfect moment....

[DISCLAIMER: this blog will be LENGTHY.... I'm not sure it will end with a "lesson"... but I need to document it for my most important readers: John Joseph, Noah James, Jeremiah David, Elijah Daniel, and Hannah Elyzabeth. It is for them that I write. So that if at some point, I'm not here to share my heart with them (hopefully when they are OLD and GRAY.... hopefully some time after my 100th birthday.... for that is how long I plan to live) my words will live on to minister to them.]

It had been a ROUGH 24 hours.... I will start at the beginning, because I guess that's the only place to start...

Friday morning dawned a bit daunting, but nothing I haven't conquered before. Novenah arrived bringing her sickness and tearing my heart in two. I LOATHE seeing babies sick! Ugh! Their poor, tortured, sweaty-skinned,  ragged-breath selves just KILL me. We had a tough but not overly out-of-control morning. After finishing our morning lessons and getting Novenah down for a second nap, I sent the kids upstairs to get some lunch while I quick threw in a load of laundry and made some work calls in peace and quiet. Halfway through switching the wash to the dryer, I heard screams and a couple of body slams from upstairs.

Rushing up the stairs, I found mayhem and lost my patience! One boy was clutching "the family jewels" and another was red-faced from being choked. Both were FLAT on the ground. I lost it! "REALLY??? I can't ask you to do ONE self-directed task without it dissolving into WWF Smack Down?"  I was LIVID from being forced to stay upstairs and chaperon lunch preparations. I angrily did the dishes scolding the children every other minute, "Quiet!" "Get on task!" "Finish your lunch!" I needed to finish my work calls before the baby woke back up.

Finally the children finished their lunch, and we returned to the basement as a group. I resumed my laundry job and casually asked Noah a question I would later regret, "Hey, can you check if my Fedex shipment arrived yet?" After doing my bidding, he returned with news that the package had not arrived but the mail had. As I was just finishing filling the washer with a new load I heard him say, "Mom, you got a letter."

I opened the letter (actually a brief note) from afar and quickly wished I had never read it. I suppose it was meant to be informative, maybe even helpful. However, the closing line of the letter will likely tell you why it wasn't very fun to read. "Don't continue to gain a lot of weight as it is not healthy for you."  Now I don't know if many of you have ever been in the place that I find myself. Over the past few STRESSFUL years I have put on more pounds then I care to admit here publicly. I have a scale. I know exactly how much I have gained. And in spite of my crazy busy life taking care of MANY people, jobs, and tasks, I occasionally DO find time to glance in the mirror and trust me I do NOT like what I see. I also have enough of a fitness/nutrition background to know EXACTLY how unhealthy this is for me. However, all of that being said, whether it is smart or not, I am currently choosing to put caring for the MANY I love... homeschooling my babies, offering my niece child care, nursing my husband through this time of sickness, giving my aunt a place to live that is not a nursing home.... over some things I would LOVE to do: sleep, workout, eat healthier. However, in spite of KNOWING how I've gotten here and that it is of my own choosing and a result of my own actions, I live each day in fear that someone will tell me what THEY see adding a whole new level to the disgust I feel about myself. So here it was looking me RIGHT in the face: you are gaining a TON of weight Jami and people would have to be BLIND not to notice. I dissolved into tears, most of the rest of the day basically lost in a fog of depression and pain.

That wasn't the end of the icky... this morning was the first day of Youth Cheer. I was still (in spite of my icky Friday) SO excited for cheer. Yet somehow, I overslept. Then after rushing about to still get there in time, I arrived at the school and in my haste, closed Hannah's hand in the minivan door. By this point, I dissolved. I was BAWLING and a WRECK.

Hannah is fine. Her hand has a small bruise, but the injury doesn't even warrant an x-ray. I was MUCH worse off than she. I was left feeling hungover from expelling WAY too many tears over the last day. Hannah and I had a GREAT time at her first cheer practice. Those little darlings, so cute it's almost a sugar overload, could improve just about ANY day. But still I was feeling the effect of too much crying. On the way home from practice, God whispered what would be the BEST idea ever into my ear... I came home and told John, "What if we blow off chores, get some subs, and have a picnic?" I told him I had felt God telling me to pull the ones I love the most close to me and find comfort in their presence... and OHHHHH did I ever!  Did I EVER!

The weather of today PERFECTLY mirrored what happened to me.... I awoke to a DREARY day. Gray sky.  Wet streets. COLD, damp breeze. I shivered all the way to practice. While, inside the gym practicing with my adorable girls, the weather broke. The sun came out. A BEAUTIFUL, crisp, sunny, fall day was born.

And while surrounded by my babies and the man I'll love till death parts us, hope was born inside of me.  The fog of my tears cleared. The pain in my heart was soothed.

We grabbed some subs and actually ended up having a car picnic in the parking lot of the library. We spent some time checking out books and then headed home. Then followed the most PRECIOUS moment yet... sprawled in various poses of relaxation, hands hugging warm cups filled with yummy beverages, with K-love playing faintly in the background, unintentionally, not even REALIZING where I had ended up (my FAVORITE place ever) we all just read some good books.... no communication needed.... It was SUCH a perfect moment! My favorite people in the room, my favorite beverage in my hand, and my favorite activity going on.

Next time you are caught in the middle of a foggy, gray situation REMEMBER the clouds and drizzle and cold wind will only make the beauty that comes after that MUCH brighter.

Friday, August 10, 2012

John's Health Update....


After packing up the baby to eat on the go and to be picked up on the go, packing school stuff for the kids, leaving dinner on the table for Auntie Marge, finishing up a swirl of work calls and e-mails, and making sure I was ready to go to, we left the house at 2:30 p.m. yesterday. By the time we arrived home, it was 8:30 p.m. and WHAT A WHIRLWIND it was in between!

MU --- got to MU by 2:55 p.m. waited and waited and waited (an ENTIRE 5 minutes!) for John to get done with work. He hopped in the car and we headed to

St. Luke's --- dropped John off 15 minutes early for his appointment he was in the office for 1 hour and 15 minutes! Meanwhile I sat in the car with 3 of our kids and Novenah, trying to feed Novenah while motivating our kids to do some school assignments [public note to self: do NOT even bring the schoolwork in the future! it is FUTILE and just FRUSTRATING and not all that beneficial to ANYONE!] When John returned back to the minivan he had

GOOD NEWS --- based upon evaluation of the MRI, Dr. Ahuja is recommending another round of Physical Therapy 2x per week for 6 weeks, cervical traction AND switching up John's muscle relaxers and NO SURGERY YET!  I immediately got on the phone with the

insurance company --- WWWWWWHHHHHHYYYYYY oh WWWWWWHHHHHHYYYYYY does everything have to be SOOOOOOOOOOOOO difficult???? fought with the voice-activated system which was going NUTS because my charges could NOT be silent and it kept hearing their noise and interpretting it as my selection. Finally got through that and waited on hold FOREVER to reach someone who said that my group number wasn't recognized by the voice-activated system (REALLY????? cuz I couldn't tell!) and then transferred me to the correct person. I then waited on hold for another ETERNITY to reach a different person who said, "I'm sorry your group number didn't transfer can I have it again?" So WHILE I WAS DRIVING found the number and repeated it to her [btw... isn't it nuts that I don't have that memorized after 3 years of this???] I explained to her I was trying to find out if this cervical traction device was covered only to find out without a billing code [which of course our Dr. didn't give us and by now of course his office was already closed so of course I could not get that] they couldn't tell me if it was covered.... WHILE all of this was going on, we were trying to coordinate Tanisha picking up Novenah which resulted in us pulling into not one but TWO different

McDonalds --- was dinner last night. Don't even get me STARTED on the expense/lack of nutritional value/etc of that choice... Easy won out last night! But we still didn't transfer the Novenah package. Headed QUICKLY to

My parents' house --- to drop off the kiddos to hang out there while we went to the chiropractor we were starting to run LATE AHHHHHHHHH!  Hurried over to the chiropractor with Novenah still tagging along.... Made it to

Dr. Hyatt --- digested a TON of information (a normal neck should have a 43 degree curve -- John's neck is almost straight up and down with only a 3 degree curve) the crux of which is Dr. Hyatt is (and in turn WE are) cautiously optimistic that he can help improve the curve of John's neck and decrease his pain level through chiropractic adjustments. [Novenah got picked up somewhere in here.] The 2 visits per week program we are embarking on will be a little costly BUT as I told John (and several other people afterwards) we can eat Ramen noodles every night for 9 months it helps John avoid another surgery! So John got adjusted last night, we picked up his new prescription, and the

End Results --- he is sore today, but optimistic. I can tell because he keeps starting sentences with, "When I get stronger," "After I get better," or "After a few months at the chiropractor,"....  We are STRICTLY following all doctor directives (iced 3x already, started new medicine regimen, kept rolling over all night long to make sure he was sleeping ON HIS BACK with his neck properly supported)... and for all of you

THANK YOU --- sooooooooo MUCH for your prayer support! We could feel you all carrying us through yet one more tough time in this journey. Keep on praying! It's working!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday....

It is Thursday, and I am THANKFUL!

Noah James Kastner 6 years old
I'm thankful for Noah James Kastner. This amazing boy of mine is growing into such a GREAT young man! In some ways I am sad that at the ripe young age of 9 years old he had to start acting like a man, helping with Daddy's meds, worrying about his Daddy's health, doing SO much work around the house. However, those very sad things have developed character in this young man that I wouldn't change for the WORLD!  Noah is wise beyond his years and more mature than many grown men I know. He loves SACRIFICIALLY, he thinks LOGISTICALLY, and he learns SPECTACULARLY. I am so unbelievably thankful for my firstborn.

Jeremiah David Kastner 5 years old
I'm thankful for Jeremiah David Kastner. He is SOOOOOOOOOOO godly-minded! Whenever I am stressed, whenever someone is sick or in pain, whenever he hears about a tragedy in the news, this boy turns IMMEDIATELY to prayer. He constantly comes up with thoughts and ideas of how things relate back to God or godly concepts. I have LONG believed that Jeremiah would end up preaching the Word of God someday, but for the FIRST time, yesterday, we were talking about "when I grow up" things, and he said, "Mom, do I go to college to be a Pastor?" WAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! That's MY boy!

Elijah Daniel Kastner 3 years old
I'm thankful for Elijah Daniel Kastner. He is smart and funny and just devious enough to keep it REAL. He is ALWAYS thinking, thinking, thinking. I love the way I can literally SEE his brain working through his gorgeous little eyes. He is ALSO a snuggler. In fact, many have commented that Elijah has a poor sense of personal space, but as the mom or growing boys who soon will hardly want me to give them a peck on the cheek "in front of my friends" I love that this boy is a SNUGGLER and I'm lapping up as much of that loving as I can before he gets too grown for it.

Hannah Elyzabeth Kastner 1 year old
I'm thankful for Hannah Elyzabeth Kastner. She is princess PERFECTION! I love the way she is SO into clothes and makeup and purses, but she is the ONLY child of mine who is not really afraid of ANYTHING! She will go downstairs in the dark, kill a bug, tackle a bully. But what I love the MOST about this little girl is what a servant she is! She LOVES to take care of people. She helps me give Auntie Marge her shower, helps me change Novenah, helps Daddy with his meds. That girls is just DRAWN to those who are in need, who are hungry, who are hurting... and she HELPS them.

Last but CERTAINLY not least:

I'm thankful for John Joseph Kastner. He is my rock. When I am all floopy and frantic over some injury, symptom or oddity in our children, he remains steady and calm. When I am losing my mind in the midst of STRESS, he centers me and reminds me how amazing he thinks I am. He gets up EVERY morning and goes to work in more pain than most of us could even IMAGINE. He tries his BEST to be kind and patient even when his head is pounding and his neck is spasming. He is the BEST father I have ever seen: rolling around on the floor with the kids, unabashedly having "the talk" with our boys, being these boys "best friend" yet still their authority figure, and teaching them how to repent when he has messed up.  I LOVE this man and am SO glad that God chose him to complete me.

What are YOU thankful for today? If you don't have your own blog, feel free to post your Thankful Thursday as a comment to mine. If you don't want to post your thankfulness publicly, just make sure to be THANKFUL and maybe to tell those you are thankful for why you are....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sanity blog

[DISCLAIMER: This is a vain attempt to gather my sanity by documenting my insanity. Proceed with caution in reading this blog. Names have NOT been omitted to protect the "innocent." Details have NOT been prettied up AT ALL. This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.]

I awoke at 5:58 a.m. to the sound of my pre-alarm quietly going off. (I'm not sure what to say about that... my new phone has this smart morning function where it plays this polite little tune for 5 min prior to the REAL alarm going off with BLARING rudenss. It is, at the same time, kinda cool and kinda confusing.) By the time I dragged myself outta bed, it was about 6:08 a.m. I realized with some sort of ODD early-morning clarity that I could squeeze in a 20-minute bout on the treadmill if I hurried before the sleep cleared from my brain and I realized what I was doing. By 6:15 I was on the treadmill and moving along. 20 minutes later, dripping with sweat, I finished and jetted inside to hop in the shower.... (ssscccrrreeeccchhh... the sound of me braking quickly because) ...Auntie Marge was in the bathroom.... trying to maintain my patience over the fact that JUST at the EXACT brief window I had to jump in the shower she had to pee, I got my towel, stripped off my clothes and tried HARD not to tap my foot while I waited... and waited... and waited (in all honesty it was prolly only 6 minutes that I waited; HOWEVER, I had to LEAVE to take John to work!)

I hopped in the shower, got dressed, made and consumed a slimfast shake, grabbed a to-go cup of coffee, woke the children and jumped in the car by 6:58 a.m.! I was a bit frazzled, but so darn proud of myself that I had actually worked out BEFORE taking John to work that my frazzling quickly disipated.

I got John to MU by 7:20ish, waited for Novenah till about 7:40, had to JUMP outta the van and run inside to go to the bathroom (don't worry Dustin was with Novenah when this transpired!). Finally with my precious cargo properly placed, I headed home to find 4 little angels sitting on the couch with smiles on their faces. Their chores had been done, and they proudly announced, "The laundry fairies came while you were gone! They put away all the clean laundry!"

Thus began my morning.... Good, bad and indifferent all mixed together with the good still winning out. I raced through feeding Novenah while shouting out directives to my little angels.... we stopped and did devotions.... we cleaned up the living room and vacuumed so Novenah could crawl... and this was all before 9 a.m.!  [Somewhere in the midst of this Auntie Marge casually announced that while she had to change her Depends this morning she did NOT have an accident; and therefore, did NOT need a shower. Why do I believe old people at this point????] I got the children set up to do their stations (computer, buddy work, phonics packet, etc...) and bounded down the stairs to do my work. Quick load of laundry (OHMIGOSH we are still DROWNING in laundry around here!) and then I was at my desk.

I spent the next hour and a half or so working. Dealt with a VERY snippy registrar and banged my head against the wall trying to get a third reference for someone when NONE of his references were calling me back... All of a sudden from above (not from God... from my upstairs) someone shouted, "Novenah's all wet!" SACAJAWEA! I forgot to change her after breakfast!

When I got upstairs to change her I realized she prolly hadn't been changed since she went to bed last night. POOR THING! She was wet to the gills! I changed her quick and put her back on the floor for her workout (she's learning to crawl and today she has been MOVING!) and headed back downstairs for a few more calls.

So far the day had been BUSY but not that bad.... All of that was about to change at 11:03 a.m. I had finished the bulk of my urgent work and needed to start feeding Novenah lunch so I jetted upstairs. The butcher block was pulled in front of the doorway to the basement as a precaution should our little jet-setting crawler get through the kitchen unexpectedly. As I was pushing the butcher block back into place, one wheel collapsed sending baby food, bottles, a little glass jar, my water glass, and the salt and pepper shakers clattering to the ground. There was broken glass, water, and ice EVERYWHERE! As I tried to lift the butcher block enough for Noah to get the wheel back under there, the wooden-cutting-board top of it just came off in my hands and the thing CRASHED to the ground again, nearly severing my toe. I was thinking, "Seriously??? Seriously???" But that was not the end.  Noah helped me clean up the mess and get the butcher block thingy propped up against the wall, but the top part was still not connected and that wheel was NOT solidly in there. Round about halfway through the clean up, I had started to do the pee-pee dance so as soon as we got the butcher block settled I jetted for the bathroom, only to be greeted by a toilet seat COVERED in excrement... I reached for the bleach wipes to find poopy fingerprints all over the container. *sigh* (Again WHY do I believe elderly people??? They will say ANYTHING to get out of a shower!)  Dancing in place trying not to pee my pants, I avoided the poop fingerprints and extracted a bleach wipe from the container. Cleaned the toilet seat... dried the toilet seat... and plopped down JUST IN TIME!

After washing my hands for WAY LONGER THAN THE HAPPY BIRTHDAY SONG I made Novenah's lunch, directed Noah to make Auntie Marge's lunch, commenced feeding Novenah (which was NOT an easy task.... she was WIPED out from all that crawling and from the fact that she didn't take a morning nap) only got 1/2 a bottle past her sleepy lips before giving up. I put Novenah to bed and went to deal with my sneaky 91-year old.  "Auntie Marge, based upon the poopy evidence I am convicting you as GUILTY of indeed having an accident this morning. Your punishment is a SHOWER!" Okay FINE that's not what I said! But I wanted to! Seriously what is so bad about a shower???? I love them! I long for them! I remember my single-days when I got a shower EVERY SINGLE day with tears of nostalgia in my eyes! HOW CAN YOU HATE A SHOWER?!?!?!?!?!

I patiently proceeded through giving her a shower and then headed to the kitchen to do the dishes while teaching four different grades of math lessons. (Just a QUICK brag: Noah is FREAKING brilliant! I can't believe the algebraic concepts he is grasping as I teach him in broken little pieces of instructions while washing dishes, reading Hannah her math instructions, helping Elijah figure out what to do next and checking Jeremiah's figures... IN FACT all my children are BRILLIANT! The fact that they learned this morning in this crazy madhouse is AMAZING!) Anywhoos... so we finished up math (most of the way... my little class clown is still finishing up the last of his) and I headed downstairs for more work....

My head is pounding. I need a nap or a Starbucks or SOMETHING! About halfway through this blog though I realized that I finally knew why I was writing. It wasn't just to find sanity in my insanity. God wanted me to write this blog so he could whisper something to my soul, "Jami, why do you patiently handle Auntie Marge's clean-up, gently deal with everything Novenah tosses your way, professionally handle the bristly registrar.... but the ONLY time you lose your cool... the ONE time you raise your voice.... the part of the day where you turn in to an UGLY monster is when it comes to your PRECIOUS OFF-SPRING who so SWEETLY played laundry fairies this morning...." It seems I have patience for everyone but those I love the most these days... It seems I can put on a pretty, patient face for everyone but them.

And now I'm done blogging for right now. I have to go RUN to my babies and tell them that I love them.... tell them I'm sorry I'm not more patient with them.... tell them how RIDICULOUSLY sweet it was that they were the laundry fairies and PROMISE that I will do BETTER and save a little of my patience for when they are placing stickers over every visible inch of their skin, REFUSING to get their penmanship book, SCREAMING loud enough to wake the dead (but somehow miraculously not waking the baby) and using up ALL of my laminating sheets on their play money [yes ALL of those things also happened today.]

My laundry MANgels and Angel (those are supposed to be their halos)
I love my laundry angels (had to change it because after reading this to them Jeremiah said he isn't comfortable with being referred to as a fairy... I don't think he gets that angels have wings and fly too maybe it is just that fairies have wands and tutus??? Now Noah is requesting I change it to laundry MANgels... I gotta post this blog before they add anymore to it!)

[Okay I paused... read this to them... cried while I read it... apologized.... kissed them all... so now I can finish the lesson part]

Jami's life as a lesson:

Save some patience, love, kindness, some of the GOOD STUFF for the people you love the most. I know that it is easy to let who we REALLY are and what we REALLY feel like hang out in front of those we know will love us NO MATTER WHAT, but don't you think those we love the most deserve a little of our best too?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Anxiety attack... Temper tantrum.... And a FORMIDABLE foe...

I left John and Hannah in radiology waiting for our copy of the MRI disc and followed the orange and then the gray diamonds toward the exit. Somewhere around the time I passed the pharmacy, I started to notice the knot in my stomach. By the time I reached the glass elevator, my throat was closing up and my pulse was racing. I climbed the steps and willed myself not to break out in a sprint. I could tell that I was sweating, and I felt certain that if I had to inhale one more breath of that canned hospital air I would vomit. I'm not entirely sure how I made it to the minivan. All I know for sure is that FIRST breath of stifling hot 90° air outside the revolving door at St. Luke's was HEAVENLY.

Today we went to church for the first time in a LONG time, but I hardly noticed. I was too busy waging an internal temper tantrum that would have impressed even a toddler in his terrible two's! Yesterday's panic attack had left me raw and aching, and I was RIPE for a vicious and awful attack from the devil. See one thing Satan does NOT do is fight fair! He waits till you are staggering with pain...  He doesn't stop when you fall to your knees... Your prostrate form almost lifeless on the ground only excites him and encourages him to take one more shot. And he knows just where to aim and land jab after jab in you heart, your spirit, your soul. Because I had taken on the form of a 2-year old in my heart, I entertained the devil's attack. I let his scathing words and vicious accusations bat my heart back and forth in my chest. I should have SCREAMED, "Get thee behind me Satan!" Instead I allowed him to throw gasoline on the fire of my fear and anger.

Tonight I'm still reeling and aching and sore. I brought a knife (actually a child's toy knife) to a gun battle and the resulting carnage is insane.

I guess the lesson I have tonight is DON'T cave to Satan! DON'T underestimate him. DO NOT give ear to his nonsense.

No matter what your circumstances look like tonight remember that we know the end! In the end, God wins and Satan is defeated. Let that encourage you to fight anew, my friends.

Friday, August 3, 2012

In Heaven

In Heaven there will be no childhood cancer, no cancer of any kind.

Babies won't die, leaving their mother's arms empty.

Friends won't betray... Husbands won't leave... Brains won't need surgery... There won't be foreclosures, unemployment, persecution, hypocrisy.

In Heaven, we will SEE Him FACE-TO-FACE! Misunderstandings, lies, pain and agony will ALL be a thing of the past.

In Heaven.....

Where I belong....

Sometimes it feels like I'm watching from the outside 
Sometimes it feels like I'm breathing but am I alive 
I won't keep searching for answers that aren't here to find

All I know is I'm not home yet 
This is not where I belong 
Take this world and give me Jesus 
This is not where I belong

So when the walls come falling down on me 
And when I'm lost in the current of a raging sea 
I have this blessed assurance holding me.

All I know is I'm not home yet 
This is not where I belong 
Take this world and give me Jesus 
This is not where I belong

When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You 
When the lights fade I wanna be found in You

All I know is I'm not home yet 
This is not where I belong 
Take this world and give me Jesus 
This is not where I belong

All I know is I'm not home yet 
This is not where I belong 
Take this world and give me Jesus 
This is not where I belong

Where I belong, where I belong
Where I belong, where I belong

Building 429 - Where I Belong [New Song 2011]

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Saturday MRIday....

John's MRI is scheduled for THIS Saturday. We would appreciate all the prayers we can get on this issue as we are NOT very excited about the possibility of another surgery.

Also his chiropractor appointment is scheduled for Tuesday, August 7.

Prayerfully walking forward and clinging to His promises...

The Kastners

Sunday, July 29, 2012

John's health...

Just a little update for those of you who are following our 3-year journey through brain surgery and its aftermath. for the purpose of clarity I think is important to point out that John actually has two totally separate issues going on here, for one he sees a neurologist for the other a neurosurgeon.

1. Neurologist: A few weeks ago John had a VERY encouraging appointment with the neurologist where he learned that after his next appointment (I think in 6 months) as long as he has had no additional episodes, the neurologist will discontinue his anti-seizure meds. One other encouraging neurologist note: it was revealed that while a diagnosis of seizures cannot totally be ruled out, our neurologist does not think the episodes John has been plagued with are seizures. He feels they are a result of anxiety/stress. That is VERY good news.

2. Neurosurgeon: Last week was John's appointment with the neurosurgeon and that was not quite as encouraging. Because John's neck pain is just NOT improving, Dr. Ahuja is ordering an MRI to see if John will need to have surgery to fuse the vertebrae in his neck. [DON'T even get me STARTED on the fear, anxiety, dread that rises in my belly at the thought of that concept! In fact for several days, I have been in denial pretending that the doctor didn't even say that.] When the piece of John's skull was removed and remodeled, it shifted the weight distribution on his neck. Previously bulging discs in his neck which had never caused THAT much discomfort are now bearing MUCH more of the weight of his head; therefore, the pain will not subside. We are waiting for a call from Aurora to schedule the MRI and have also taken the preemptive measure of finally scheduling a chiropractor appointment for John. For the past three years, John has craved, yet feared, returning to the chiropractor. The thought of being adjusted even with modifications made to compensate for the change to the structure of his skull/neck is NOT appealing. Well the threat of surgery was just the shove he needed. We are praying that through our trusted and beloved chiropractor of over 20 years, God will bring the healing and relief necessary to avoid another surgery.

3. You know when I was a student in a Christian jr. hi/high school, I used to HATE it when people had "unspoken" prayer requests. The "unspoken" made me too darn curious, and it seemed kinda oxymoronic to SPEAK an UNSPOKEN request.  Regardless, here I am about to do it myself. There are several nuances to this health trial we are working our way through that I just don't feel released by God to share the details of... they are private... confidential... yet AGONIZING. Please, please, please, when lifting us up, keep in mind that the things I've shared represent the part of the iceberg which is visible above the water line. Please take a moment to pray over the gargantuan chunk of ice hidden beneath the water's surface too.

As always, we are SAFE and SURE in the capable hands of our Father. We know our lives, our health our very existence are under HIS watchful eye. He controls our destiny. He directs our fate. But we wouldn't mind having a little prayer support from our faithful brothers and sisters in Christ too.

And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

my life as a lesson: Lessons I learned from Mercy

my life as a lesson: Lessons I learned from Mercy: I need to begin this blog with a HUGE disclaimer. I am NOT a cat person. I really am not. I can hardly stand cats. In fact (as MANY woul...

Monday, July 23, 2012

A healthy diet....

I'm warning you now: at first glance this blog will seem disjointed, but give me time, and I promise I will try to pull it together.

Part 1:  Novenah has started her journey into the world of solid foods. As I read up on the progressions she should follow and the recommendations for introducing solids, I understood them a little differently than I did when I was reading them for Noah, Jeremiah. Elijah and Hannah. See this time, I'm not the momma so I am a little removed from the situation and able to look at it a little differently. When I was the momma, I assumed that I wasn't supposed to give my baby sweets and juice and junk before he/she was _____ age because he/she would certainly DIE if I gave them something out of the recommended progressions. This time, I'm able to more clearly see that introducing single-grain cereals, then veggies, then fruit isn't so that the baby doesn't DIE, it is so the baby learns to develop a taste (and liking) for the healthy foods before developing a liking for the not so healthy foods. 

Part 2: Jeremiah got an iPod for his birthday. He LOVES that thing and walks around singing songs none of the rest of us can hear at the top of his lungs. The other day he came up to me and said, "Mom, I have a GREAT idea." Every day of the week, I'm going to listen to my regular songs on my iPod, but on Sundays I'm only going to listen to godly music."  While I applauded his devotion to giving God one day of the week, I questioned whether giving 1 day to God and 6 to himself was proportional. It is not like Jeremiah is going to DIE from listening to regular music, BUT maybe like Novenah, he should fill up on the healthy stuff FIRST before indulging in the not as healthy stuff.

Application: Maybe I need to fill up on the healthy stuff (Bible reading, prayer, worship) before I indulge in the not as healthy stuff (TV, chatting). Some of the not as healthy stuff (work stress) is unavoidable. But I guess Novenah & Jeremiah just really got me thinking that I need to watch my proportions in life. I need to work to develop a "taste" for the healthy things in life and limit my indulgence in the unhealthy things. For if I fill up on the unhealthy stuff first, I will not get enough healthy things in my "diet."

Just a little food for thought for today.... What are you filling up on?  Do you need to switch your proportions? If you have too much of a "taste" for sweets and junk foods, it will take work and discipline but you CAN retrain your "pallet" to enjoy the healthier things.  I for one am going to try.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday...

Reviving an old tradition.... Since it has been so long, this Thankful Thursday will be a list of random things I am thankful for:

*living close to Marquette University
*our new (to us) minivan
*new friendships
*John getting better and stronger every day
*a job that allows me to work from home
*good health benefits
*my AMAZING children
*a break in the heat
*my loving parents
*my FABULOUS sisters
*old friendships
*strong and healthy body
*working appliances
*my tiny little house
*a smaller yard to mow
*fewer toilets to clean
*a fridge full of groceries

I could keep on going, but I need to get started with my busy day. In closing I will quote some very wise vegetables:  A thankful heart is a happy heart.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Free to a good home... (well maybe ANY home)

I find myself up hours too early this morning (since 4 a.m.) because the dog woke me to go out and then ran away.  It was one of those "Jami" moments: I realized a little too late that the shock collar was turned off as I beeped and beeped the remote, and she didn't come running. I hopped in the car and took a drive around the neighborhood. Nada. I returned home to wait and collapsed EXHAUSTED into a lawn chair only to instantly feel my entire rear end become wet from the puddle that was occupying the chair's seat. Now as I sit here on the couch unwilling to go back to bed because I have to get back up in 38 minutes, I realize I may have the perfect vehicle to blog about a concept that has LONG burned on my heart.

Do you feel bad for me right now? Do you feel bad for my sleep-deprived, wet-bottomed condition? or are you thinking, "She's just getting the consequences of her OWN actions." and  "We've been reading about this STUPID runaway dog for 2 years now! Why hasn't she gotten rid of that dog?" or "Shoulda checked the shock collar before she let the dog out."

See while I READILY admit that my sad, wet-bottomed situation is a result of my own actions, I would like to present that it is still okay to feel sympathy for this sad, old lady sitting on her couch with a wet bottom.

So often I see people within the body of Christ using a time of hardship as the time to preach to the person struggling, and it makes me SHAKE MY HEAD. Does it matter if a person got lung cancer from chain smoking for years or from never smoking a day in their life? One way or another cancer SUCKS and that person needs some compassion. Why are we THE BODY OF CHRIST so quick to point the finger at teenage pregnancy instead of opening our arms and embracing that wounded, struggling girl?

It is my contention that at the point of suffering consequences, the struggling soul does NOT need anyone to preach him/her a sermon. At that point, the consequences are preaching their own sermon LOUD & CLEAR. Instead, at the point of suffering consequences, the struggling soul is PERFECTLY poised to hear about the LOVE, MERCY and FORGIVENESS of our God.

I contend that Jesus would open His arms. Welcome the person into His embrace. Pour soothing oil on wounds and minister LOVING forgiveness to the battered soul. I contend that is what we should do too.

Whether you feel bad about my wet-bottomed self or not, the title of this blog is not just witty, it is for real. I think it is time for our precious little Kiah to find a new home. She is a GREAT dog, GENTLE with children, loving and kind. But she is a RUNNER and this crazy, busy mother of 4, caregiver to 7 does NOT have the time to deal with the subtle nuances of having a runaway dog anymore. Over the next few days I will be SERIOUSLY praying about posting this dog back on Freecycle so if you are interested in a dog, let me know. We love her and would rather she go to a good home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

my life as a lesson: Skittle-Pooping Unicorns...

Thinking of this blog this morning....

my life as a lesson: Skittle-Pooping Unicorns...: Have you seen Facing the Giants ? If you haven’t, you need to! If you have, you should watch it again! What an inspirational movie! I cry ev...

Monday, July 16, 2012

My old house....

The past few weeks I have really been struggling. I MISS my quiet country abode. The past few days I can't stop seeing what I gave up:

*big, beautiful house
*expansive garden
*swimming pool
*riding lawn mower
*5 garages
*more than 1 bathroom
*QUIET, secluded existence
*wind turbines
*that BIG country sky
*rolling farmland
*the smell of fresh air
*a clothesline

I literally have tears in my eyes just from typing that list! I miss my Iron Ridge address.

 I know! I know! I know!

*We need to be closer to work, hospitals and family.
*We are saving money hand-over-fist by living in Milwaukee.
*no more CRAPPY country Internet
*yada yada yada

But I miss having room for this loud, crazy family to spread out. I miss being able to let my kids RUN, free & WILD about their neighborhood. I miss not sharing a toilet with a 91-year old woman who CANNOT keep things IN the toilet. I miss bonfires and grill-outs and ROOM for parties. I miss my KITCHEN!!!!!

So what's a girl to do? I shed a few tears, allowed myself a little mopey time, but now it is time to pull up my big girl panties and figure out what's the lesson to be learned here. I think there is more than just one.

1. NOTHING IS PERFECT! No matter how great something seems. No matter how ideal, God-timed, fabulous something is, NOTHING IS PERFECT! This tiny, little home I currently reside in is ideal. Moving in here was perfectly timed by God. Being closer to everything/everyone and saving TONS of money is FABULOUS. But NOTHING IS PERFECT. We had to give up A LOT for ideal, God-timed and fabulous. That doesn't make this new address, this tiny place any LESS AMAZING. AMAZING doesn't have to be perfect.

2. NOTHING LASTS FOREVER! What this lesson means TO YOU I do not know. Does it mean, hug your kids because you aren't promised tomorrow? Does it mean appreciate your expansive home because tomorrow you could be in foreclosure? Does it mean value your health and your youth for each day you're only getting older and you may not be healthy forever? I don't know. For me, it means be grateful for our jobs which are allowing us to make ends meet; be grateful for benefits which allow us to see the doctor, get glasses, and save money on our cell phone bill; be grateful for young children who are still living under my roof where I can love on them, teach them and build them up; be grateful for the friends, family and other blessings I have.... NOTHING LASTS FOREVER so the lesson for me is to be careful of taking anything for granted.

3. It is OKAY to feel. Sometimes as Christians I think we feel we have to slap a happy face on everything. But it is OKAY to feel.... to be sad, to be frustrated, to feel overwhelmed. We are human and it is OKAY to feel. We just have to be careful we do not allow our feelings to control us.

So I'm going to allow myself to feel a bit mopey.... to remember my REALLY COOL house with sad nostalgia... but then I'm gonna pull up my big girl pants and get on with what I need to do... remembering to appreciate everything I have.

Friday, June 22, 2012

48 hours...

Life is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO crazy in the Kastner household these days!  I mean imagine our normal life amped up on a Red Bull. That's what it is like around here.

***Still driving John to and from work each day (ALTHOUGH in HUGE news: he started riding a bike to work this week... tried two times on the way home and this morning on the way there... so far a RAGING success!).
***Worked a 40 hour week for the past THREE weeks. That's just the Reference Checking portion of my "work"... still caring for 5 kiddos, 1 old lady (2 old ladies sometimes), homeschooling, and managing a household.
***Trying to get in shape. Using the treadmill my sister gave me at least 3x a week but aiming for 6... only problem is I have NO TIME for that!

So anyways... mi vida loca es MUY loca these days. I have been repeatedly telling people for several months, "I can't look more than 48 hours ahead in my life." I can schedule, say a dentist appointment in September or a playdate next week, but I cannot REALLY truly look at the logistics of that event until I am 48 hours away from it. Each day holds so VERY many details that I can't look at more than 2 days without hitting COMPLETE overload.

My mom told me last night that she has been invoking my "48-hour rule" FREQUENTLY as of late. I was thinking about that on the treadmill this morning, and God spoke a little word to me. He said, "Daughter, that's how I want you to look at ALL of life. You concentrate on what YOU have to do in the next 48 hours and leave the REST up to me." What a GOOD word for me to hear!

I am SUCH a worrier at heart! I worry that my kiddos will be abducted (that one is actually my WORST fear)... I worry that I won't have the money to pay the bills... I worry and worry and worry about things that I have NO BUSINESS worrying about! This morning God tole me that I have to focus my eyes on the tasks before me in the immediate future and let Him worry about the rest! I need to leave the distant future, the things that are outside my control, the things that aren't even my business in the STRONG, CAPABLE hands of my Father and invoke the 48 hour rules over my worries as well.

Idk if this makes any sense, but as sure as I know my name is Jami, I know that God wanted me to put this mumbo jumbo out there because at least ONE of you needs to hear it.

Do not worry about the things that are in the distant future.
Do not worry about the things that are out of your control.
Do not worry about the things that are in other people's lives.

Set your mind to accomplishing the things God has put before you for RIGHT NOW and let HIM take care of all the rest.

Hope this brings peace and encouragement to someone!

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Anniversary Address

One score and four years ago, John J. Kastner and I entered into a covenant union, based upon a shared love for God and modeled after the principles set forth in His word. We have faced many battles. In truth, it often seems more time has been spent trudging over sharp, rocky valleys then frolicking in beautiful, green meadows. We stood at that altar 14 years ago today and promised "in sickness and in health," "for richer and poorer," "for better and worse," and I, for one, am immensely proud of how this union has stood the test of sickness, poorer and much, much worse. Today, I celebrate 14 years of being married to my best friend, and I renew my commitment to fight like the dickens to ensure that this covenant stands, that this union reflects God's glory, and that my marriage lasts until "death do us part."

Happy Anniversary, John J. Kastner. I love you more than I can say here in this silly little blog. Here's to 14 more years of wedded bliss ;)  We sure are living the dream.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Battered and bruised....

There are people in this world who wound you no matter how gently you touch them. Even when you reach out to help or to offer an encouraging word.... you come away from encounters with them battered and bruised.

I don't know why these people are that way. Do they TRY to stab at the heart of you? Are they just carelessly flinging their words about? I'm not sure I care. Why they do things doesn't really heal the damage they have done.

[Before I go any further.... because I know I will get a call/text/email about this.... THIS BLOG IS NOT ABOUT ANYONE I AM RELATED TO! And I am PURPOSELY being vague because I don't believe in using my blog to call people out.... but rather I like to use my blog as a vehicle for dissecting the things I'm going through.... writing is my therapy (even when I do it huddled over a smartphone and pecking away with my thumbs like this) I blog to work my way through my feelings and I have a public blog so others can stumble across my mad hot mess and find encouragement or understanding... NOT so I can tell the world with whom I had a prickly encounter today. There.... now let's get on with it.]

Soooooo back to the wounds from a "friend".....

When I hear that quote, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I think of myself. See I am the ETERNAL optimist. No matter how often a person has shattered my heart I keep believing, next time they won't. I give 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances where they are in NO WAY warranted. I just keep on hoping that people will behave nicely. And over and over and over again I am disappointed because of that hopeful outlook.

Left here after a firm slap in the face I ponder (not to sound trite) "What would Jesus do?"  And here's what I think He would do.... He wouldn't stop loving.... He wouldn't stop reaching out His hand to try to gently touch another.... He wouldn't give up hope that next time will be different.

For tonight I hope its okay if I just hide in my corner licking my wounds. But don't you worry.... tomorrow I will get back up again, dust the debris off my seat, wipe the snot from my nose, pull up my big girl panties and get back to loving... NO MATTER WHAT. But not tonight... I hope its okay if I just whimper in my bed with the covers pulled up tight for awhile...

Goodnight everyone...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thoughts on being a mom.....

I woke up this Mother's Day morning crowded in my king size bed by three of my sweet babies and quickly came to the realization that my Great Aunt was having an accident in the bathroom. I had fallen asleep the night before after comforting a puking child and cleaning up after the devastation that wrought. As I bathed my aunt and cleaned the bathroom up after her, it dawned on me that THIS series of events was the PERFECT representation of what being a mom is all about.

Being a mom isn't about flowers and brunches and homemade cards. It is disgusting and heart-wrenching and quite often just plain ugly. It is about a broken-hearted child whose friend betrayed him... It is about weird lumps and waiting for test results.... It is about snotty noses, dirty bottoms and spewing puke... It is about reminding children over and over and over, "The Bible says...." It is about molding and training and WORKING very, very, VERY hard to "train up a child."

But you know what? This disgusting, heart-wrenching, UGLY job is the best one I have ever had! Because all this hard work.... all the wading through refuse.... all the tears cried and worries held at bay... result in these AMAZING little pieces of Heaven that I know I had a hand in molding.

See it is the WHOLE theme of this life.... the BEST things.... the things that are most worthwhile.... the things that are MOST worth having in this world come after hard work and tears.  So keep at it my friends! Whether "it" is being a mom, fighting cancer, making ends meet....  DON'T GIVE UP! If it is hard work, chances are the reward will be VERY valuable.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the private things.....

Some things are just TOO private for even ME to blog about.  One happened today... I guess maybe it wasn't too private too ever blog about.... I just had to keep it close to my coat at first because I guess I wasn't real sure what to say... That's right... ME the one who is NEVER at a loss for words, didn't know what to say. I actually don't think I was at a LOSS for words I think I was at an overload of words. There was SUCH a jumble I couldn't focus on one thought so I stayed quiet instead.  Here's what happened...

On April 14, I went for my very first mamogram EVER (YES! I know I was over two years late! Cut me some slack we've had a few medical things happen in the past 2 years.). On April 17, they called and said I needed to come back for more images and possibly an ultrasound. Terror, calm, worry, peace, fear, SURENESS... assaulted me without letting up. My heart SCREAMED, God is in control. He holds your future in His capable hands. But my head SHOUTED BACK, that doesn't mean He won't walk us down yet another scary and difficult road.

I asked a few to pray for me. I prayed my guts out. And I waited.

Today I went for my additional images. I had to have SEVERAL mammography images done and an ultrasound and I waited... A LOT. Finally the doctor came in. [I remember it was a bit surreal. I kept thinking could he just CUT to the chase? and is this a moment that will change my life? and Lord hold me close, I'm quite a bit scared.]  The end result is: The radiologist is confident that this is normal tissue for me, but just to be safe it will be re-examined in six months.

I'm still not sure WHAT to say about this. It is all just raw and quite honestly a bit terrifying. I just know in my heart (in fact I knew back on April 18th) God doesn't want me to stay silent on this. I knew He would call me to reveal it, in spite of its embarrassing/sensitive subject. I'm still not sure why. See back on April 18, I thought I would be called to share so other people "waiting" in similar situations could be encouraged.... problem is, while I sorta got a green flag... I'm also still waiting a little... waiting for 6 months. so I'm not sure how encouraging that is.

Maybe the answer.... Maybe the reason for sharing is this:

Whether the answer is positive, negative or somewhere in between isn't what really matters.... He is with me REGARDLESS of the answer.  That's what matters. There was a moment in the waiting area... I had already had two different sets of mammograms and they had announced that I would need the ultrasound... I was sitting there in that treacherous hospital gown, trying not to expose anything and growing more fearful by the moment and then I had a vision of God sitting in the empty chair next to me with His arm around my shoulder. My heart calmed and my soul realized... He is there.  He is ALWAYS there.

Hope this encourages someone.... otherwise I just spilled out this terrifying, embarrassing mess for NOTHING!

God bless, everyone.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A week of failure....

*We haven't had clean towels in this house all week.
*I forgot to give Novenah her medicine AGAIN.
*I bought takeout this week in spite of the fact that my freezer held 4 casseroles.
*"Am I failing my kids in homeschooling" is a CONSTANT question I ask myself...this week the answer seems to be "yes" as an EPIC fail in swim both reminded me WHY I homeschool while at the SAME TIME making me feel like I'm not doing a good enough job at homeschooling.
*The counter has had dirty dishes on it all week.
*I'm sick and exhausted and NOT getting enough sleep.
*and a MYRIAD of other tiny little failures...

This week has been FULL of situations that have left me feeling "less than." I remember once at a teachers' convention many years ago, listening to someone say that it takes 10 positive comments to make up for just 1 negative comment. Well this week I need about 1K positive comments to outweigh all the negative I have "heard."

If I'm being fair, I suppose there have been PLENTY of good things too:

*Had my yearly review this week. My boss basically told me I'm fabulous. She doesn't know what she'd do without me.
*The kids have FINALLY almost finished Alice in Wonderland and Elijah VOLUNTARILY took on his first chapter book this week (Black Beauty)
*No one in this house went without food, love and care this week.
*The house didn't burn down.
*The car didn't break down.
*The world didn't cease to rotate.

Yet the negative things scream SO MUCH LOUDER! You're not good enough, Jami! You're not doing enough, Jami! You could be better, Jami! I hear these messages so much more clearly than: Your kids love Jesus, Jami! Your a fabulous reference checker, Jami! Your caring for MANY people with LOVE, Jami!

I'm not sure what the lesson of this blog is. I want it to be something positive.  Maybe it is found in this excerpt from the letter I wrote to my brother who is away at basic training right now:

I imagine you are called names a bit in basic training huh??? You just remember the names God calls you, Seth!  Precious! Chosen! The apple of His eye! Worth dying for! Be encouraged for what you are doing is building a GREAT future for yourself!
When I have a week of failure... When the accusations and failings are SCREAMING at me.... maybe I just need to remind myself:


Hope your week has been better than mine.  If it hasn't, just remind yourself:


Monday, April 16, 2012

Thoughts on approval....

Good morning everyone! I'm in the midst of a crazy busy morning... what a WEEKEND we had! My little brother is leaving for basic training tomorrow. Saturday we had a HUGE going away party. Sunday we met for an intimate family dinner. It was a physically demanding and emotionally draining weekend. PLEASE do me a favor and keep my brother in your prayers....

So anywhoos back to this blog... This weekend was BUSY and this morning I have a TON to do. I quickly opened my Internet Explorer but before I could type in the address of my work's remote login site, an article about Tim Tebow caught my eye. I refuse to link to it because the situation irks me. But apparently over the weekend Tim Tebow attended a Yankees game (in Yankee fan attire) and when they showed his picture on the jumbotron, he was booed by the New York audience. [PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD ARE SO RUDE!  Tim Tebow IS a person you know! GRRRRRRR!] 

Anyways my heart cringed and my eyes got a little wet at the thought of it. You know this is just really a young guy, barely more than a kid, who is just trying to play football and be a good example in the process. The thought popped into my head that maybe it didn't even phase him. You know he has GOT to know that God's approval is WAY more important than man's and that God SURE is not booing him.  But then I thought more and realized, disapproval HURTS. No matter what.... No matter when... it hurts. It doesn't matter if we are surer than SURE that we are on the path that God has put our feet on or not... It hurts to feel the sting of other people's disapproval.

We homeschool our children not because it is an easy choice or because it is ALWAYS fun or because we're some sort of conspiracy nuts... We homeschool our children because we feel CALLED by God to make that choice for their education. We homeschool our children because we believe that God wants us to. We pray every, single, solitary year and ask God, "Where do you want these children to be educated?" And for the past few years, He has answered, "At home."  Yet STILL... in spite of the conviction and calling we SOLIDLY believe in, it hurts when people make snide remarks, try to convince us we're not doing right by our children, or simply look down their noses at us like they think we're stupid for homeschooling.

I'm sure it wasn't fun for Noah standing out in the dessert building an ark. I'm sure Moses didn't ENJOY leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea and into the dessert. I'm sure Jesus didn't enjoy the walk to the cross (the Bible says he cried out, "Lord, take this cup from me!"). I'm sure Tim Tebow didn't enjoy being booed this weekend. But in the discomfort of disapproval Noah, Moses, Tim and John & I have the comfort and sureness of knowing that we are following our God's instructions to us. Those instructions do NOT have to make sense to ANYONE else. Sure it helps to have the support of a few valued people. It helps that my sister homeschools too... that my mom continually says, "I'm so glad my grandbabies go to school at home." I would bet my FAVORITE coffee mug that Tim Tebow had some help after being booed. I bet he called Mom and she said, "Tim, don't worry about man's approval." But the help and support, the sureness of your conviction, they don't completely erase the sting of disapproval.

I guess I'm near the end of this blog and I'm not really sure what the lesson is supposed to be??? Maybe several things:

1. choose wisely when you're going to be negative to/about someone... booing, snide remarks, judgmental comments... you could be used as a tool of the devil, discouraging someone who is on the path God set them on!

2. if you're being booed... eyes up! refocus and see what God is saying... seek the approval of God not man... lick your wounds... run to your support system.... but ultimately remind yourself Whose approval matters the most.

3. (shameless plug) remember to pray for Seth Thomas Haugh (leaving for basic training tomorrow) our hearts will be missing a piece until he returns so we would really appreciate your prayers.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The ups and downs of life....

Wow! It has been sooooooo long since I have blogged regularly. I'm sorry but I really don't even have the time to explain "where I've been." There is a thought pressing on my heart, and I want to quickly get it out before the dull roar upstairs erupts into complete chaos.

Yesterday was a day filled with MANY extreme emotions. The saga actually started at 7 p.m. the night before. Elijah had been a little mopey and off all day and at 7 p.m. we realized he had started spiking a fever. Just a few short hours later the vomiting began. I spent the night waking with him every few hours so he could vomit and awoke in the morning with a SPLITTING headache, chills and nausea. Unsure if I too was getting a stomach bug or if I was just wiped out from playing nurse to a child with a stomach bug all night, I lay in bed contemplating my next move. Before I got very far, Jeremiah wandered in with a raging fever.  Oy! His vomiting started shortly after that and I made the choice to just push through as I had a BIG day in front of me and no time to be sick.

I got up and raced to the grocery store for puke supplies: sprite, jello, soda crackers, white bread and bananas. Then I breezed back into my germ infested abode to get ready for the big game. (In case you aren't my Facebook friend and haven't heard me blabbing ALL OVER Facebook about the AMAZING Heritage Christian Girls' B-ball team, yesterday they played in the State Semifinals at the Kohl Center in Madison.) I jetted off to the school to practice, hopped on a school bus filled with middle schoolers and cheerleaders and finally arrived to watch history take place as the Heritage Christian Patriots WON and secured a spot in the Finals tomorrow!!!!

Our time at the Kohl Center was not all fun and games. That place has SO many nit picky, obscure, and over-the-top rules (I know WHY... because of fans in years past who got out of control but that doesn't make trying to adhere to them any easier). I was a BUNDLE of nerves trying to watch our p's and q's and make sure my girls didn't step foot on the floor except for at a time out, bring anything illegal into the arena, and stood in the exact right spots. It was CRAZY!

When I finally got home, I wanted to just crash on the couch and RELAX. I picked up my phone and through Facebook I learned that my friend's husband had passed away from a cancer he had been fighting for a year. My heart just TORE into shreds and the tears came.

To end the night, we watched Beauty and the Beast on Disney channel. I sat there watching the wonder and awe on my little girl's face as she watched this enchanting movie for the first time and thought, "This is a PRICELESS moment."

To some the recounting of this day and it's schizophrenic emotions may seem just pure chaos, but to me, the day pulled my thoughts to my God.  Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Job 2:10

Life is full of ups and downs. Not every single day is filled with this many peaks and valleys, BUT this day reminded me that in the ups and the downs:

*God is still in control
*God is worthy to be praised
*God has lessons for me to learn

Through the highs and lows yesterday.... through STENCH of the puking... through the EXCITING win... through the STRESS of the Kohl Center rules... through the DESPAIR of my friends loss... through the WONDER of a child's first Disney movie....  He was there... He was in control... He was good and right and just and true and AMAZING... and He taught me.... that I am fallible but I am also a pretty good mom and coach... that wins are fun especially when all the glory goes to Him... that death SUCKS but there is joy in eternal life... that I am BLESSED and living what I consider to be a CHARMED life....

[I have to quickly get to the end of this because the roar developed into chaos and now 4 children are sitting at their desks, next to mine with their hands folded and waiting not too patiently for me to finish.]

God bless you all today. Through this day's ups and downs may you remember He is in control, may you take time to PRAISE Him, and may you listen to the lessons he is trying to teach you.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I *heart* the body of Christ!

I have been meaning to blog about this for several days, but I have been a little bit busy with mi vida loca.

I <3 the body of Christ! I <3 that whenever one of us is down and out, the others rise up to support the failing member. I <3 the OUTPOURING of support we received ONCE AGAIN last week:  people praying for us, verses being text to my phone at JUST the right moment, YUMMY casseroles and lasagnas arriving to nourish our physical bodies, words of encouragement sent from FAR away...

I think that the body of Christ is the MOST beautiful and amazing thing in this world and I just <3 being a part of this family of Christ.

Thank you one and all! Your continued support and love is more valuable to us than you will EVER know!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Update....

John is home!!!  I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, but it is always such a WHIRLWIND at end. Thursday just after lunch they discharged him. We have an appointment with our neurosurgeon tomorrow morning and are HOPEFUL we will be able to convince him to allow John to return to work on Tuesday (prayer request #1) as he will be using the last of his currently accrued vacation hours tomorrow.

Other than some sluggishness in his right leg which makes him walk a little slower (prayer request #2), he is feeling fine. The new med combination has not left him dizzy at all. So in a roundabout way it is VERY good that he ended up in the hospital this week... as it seems to have led to a tweaking of his meds which will leave him feeling MUCH better on a daily basis.

The children are especially glad to have him home and all but Noah have rapidly bounced back from their worries and fear. Noah still is a bit clingy to John and I see the worry in his eyes (prayer request #3). The problem is he is old enough to know that this is all a bit scary.

As always thank you for your continued prayer support.  We are about to leave for church. Finally, starting the journey of finding a new church (it's been over a month that we've lived here! we have to get going on this). Hopeful one of these closer ones we are trying first will be "it."

May you have a blessed Sunday...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

This morning...

This morning is a GOOD morning... I will BELIEVE that even if I have to WILL it into being good!

John -- is out of the ICU and on a regular floor. We are HOPING and PRAYING they will send him home today. He is feeling fine; however, he still does not have much use of his right arm & leg. The tests AGAIN revealed no seizure activity, but that is what they are treating him for... they are going to tweak his medication and hope to find a combination that prevents the seizures without making him dizzy.

Jami -- living on very little sleep right now and COMPLETELY unable to cancel any cheerleading practices as this Saturday is the debut of our competition routine at Saber Showcase. I'm also VERY weary from trying to help my children through this most recent turn of events. In the past, their fears haven't been much of a factor. I don't know if they are getting older now or if they are just have a better history to remember what all of this means and will likely bring about in their lives, but they are having a hard time.

Noah -- struggling A LOT with this recent event. Please pray for him and for us to have the words to minister peace to his troubled soul.

Jeremiah -- doing pretty well... my little prayer warrior... he is SUCH an angle from above!

Elijah -- normally not very phased by all this hospital hoopla is also showing signs of wear and tear.... I can see in his eyes and hear in his questions that this is getting a little scary for him too.

Hannah -- NOT doing well... her daddy is her light and she is having a hard time this go round... the other night the boys were wearing John's necklaces and every time she saw one she burst into tears crying, "I want daddy." We had to tuck the necklaces away for the night to avoid more drama.

Thank you so much for your continued prayer support. Hopefully tomorrow when I post, John will be sleeping in his own bed!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why we moved to the city....

So this is it... why we moved to the city...

John is back in the hospital. I got the call at about 11 a.m. yesterday.... he needed to go to the ER. By the time I arrived at MU, fire trucks, an ambulance, public safety and the police were already onsite. We took the same little jaunt over to the ER and then a transfer back to that same old neuro ICU.  The working theory is that it is another seizure. Currently, he is responsive and back to being himself, but he is still suffering from significant weakness in his right arm and right leg. Word is that they are going to keep him till tomorrow.... I am not thrilled about that and we are going to express our disapproval of that concept; however, since our neurosurgeon is currently at a conference I fear this fill-in doctor may keep him longer just because he is not as familiar with John's situation. :(

So how can you be praying... I have received that question several times via FB already... here it goes:

***pray that the dr.'s will be able to tweak John's medication to control the seizures without making him so dizzy.
***pray for our children -- this is really starting to take a toll on them (especially Noah) we had to do an impromptu run up to the hospital at 10:30 p.m. for a little daddy loving to calm the fears and tears

***PRAISE God that we are back in the city!!!!  I SERIOUSLY must have thought 100x yesterday, "I'm so glad we aren't an hour away! I'm so glad we aren't an hour away!"  I can hardly express how DIFFERENT this time is because I have this underlying sense of PEACE flowing like a quiet river under the chaos... we are just minutes away... we are just minutes away... Yeah he can't drive for 3 months again (never actually went back to driving yet anyway)... but we're just minutes away... Yeah my kids are being bounced around between family members a little... but they are just minutes away... Yeah this is scary and stressful and exhausting but in His great wisdom God staged that ridiculously QUICK move back to the city and we were PERFECTLY in place for this very time.... and we're just MINUTES away....

To close I want to re-share my life verse.... Through the MANY different seasons of my life God has revealed the many different facets of this verse and showed me over and over and over again how it applies to SO MANY diametrically opposed situations:

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

Jeremiah 29:11

He KNOWS the plans! don't you worry! He has PLANS for you! Plans to prosper you! Plans to give you hope! Plans to give you a FUTURE!

God bless everyone. I promise to try to stay in better touch over the next few days so you all know how John is doing.
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