Friday, June 29, 2012

Who's Mouthpiece are You??

It's funny how we have so many things that we say but then don't follow ourselves. "Think before you speak" is one of those statements we make to children, but then ignore ourselves. But let's take that statement and add a little more and say "Think of who you are speaking for before you speak." Wait, what? Don't worry, I'll explain. But I need to paint the picture for you first.

Yesterday was a hard day. I knew I would have a hard day on Thursday after the post I wrote Wednesday. So when I woke up, I put on my armor, took a deep breath and told God that I knew He had my back. And as I expected, the enemy attacked hard and fast. When that didn't work, he had some back-up tactics. And then he just decided that he would continue to come after me all day long and hope that I would eventually give in.

I had a muscle spasm in my lower back which left me with so much pain that it hurt to breath. Roman got sick and had to leave work. (Keep in mind that Roman never ever gets sick-in fact this is the first time I remember him being sick in our entire two years of marriage!) Work was just eight hours of stress that kept exploding in my face. But there was one particular attack that almost got the best of me, had it not been for the grace of God stepping in and picking me up off of the floor.

A co-worker stepped into my office. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Are you pregnant?
Me: No, I'm not.
Her: Are you sure you're not pregnant?
Me: Yes ma'am, I'm sure.
Her: Well you sure do look pregnant. You've gained a bunch of weight. I can definitely see it in your face too. Your face is getting really full.
Me: (bewildered) Well.......I did gain some weight during these last few semesters of college. And I probably gained some from the cruise, seeing as how all you do on a cruise is eat!
Her: Well, if you say so. I mean, it looks good on you, but I was just wondering. Seems like you've just gained all of it really fast.

I don't think I have every wanted to slap someone in the face as bad as I did in that moment. I didn't know whether to cry or scream. As soon as she was out of sight, I quickly got up and walked back to the kitchen. Then I walked to the bathroom. And in my head I was having praying something like this:

"What in the world God? Why would she say something like that? I'm not going to be mad at her, I know who those comments really came from. I'm not going to be upset. I'm not going to let this ruin my day. I'm not going to be upset. I'm not going to be upset. .....I'm not going to eat that cookie in my drawer. I may try and run this afternoon if the chiropractor makes my back feel better. No, that's dumb. I'm not going to do that. Does my face really look bigger? Did I really gain that much weight? Just one more hour until I can leave this place, today has been so awful!"

And then I called Roman. Despite my reptition of the words "I'm not going to be upset", I cried on the phone anyways. Of course, Roman was mad as fire that someone would say something like that to his wife, but he was also very encouraging. He told me I was beautiful. He told me me face was not fat. He told me I was not fat. He told me to just calm down and not to listen to that trash.

But sometimes, no matter what anyone else says (even your husband!), when someone makes a comment that hurtful, it just, well, hurts! I've been called many things before, but never has someone directly called me fat. And as someone who already struggles with my self-image, that was a really hard thing for me to just let go of. But like I said earlier, despite the hurt, I knew exactly where that came from. I knew what the enemy was trying to do. He was trying to hurt me in a way that he has always been able to hurt me. He wanted to knock me down and keep me down for the next few days.

I was determined not to let him. So I logged onto Facebook hoping to see a cute picture of a puppy or read a funny status. I forgave that woman in my heart and promised God I would no longer desire to slap her. I did my best to let it go and not let her words ring in my ears.

As the page loaded, I saw that I had a message. I braced myself. My last post had gotten the most views out of any of my other posts, so I assumed I was probably about to get some hate mail. After all, it was a pretty controversial topic to write about.

Cue the grace of God. I love it when God steps in and picks us up in situations like this. A friend had read my last post. God worked through my words to give her a change of heart. She thanked me. She encouraged me to keep writing. She said she had been praying for Roman and I with his job situation. Oh happy day.

I cried again, but this time out of happiness. That message was written to me the day before, but because I was having such a busy day at work I had not logged onto Facebook. And because I had not logged onto Facebook I wound up seeing that message at the exact moment when I needed some major encouragement. In that moment, it felt like God wrapped His arms around me and whispered that everything was going to be okay. And in that moment, I was truly able to let that comment go. (And I later stuck my tongue out at the devil and ate that cookie anyways out of spite.) Isn't God just so cool?!??

Now that the picture is painted, let's go back to the beginning. Who are you speaking for when you open your mouth? Are you speaking words of hurt, or words of love and encouragement? Every single time we speak, we are either being an instrument for the enemy or an instrument for our Father.

"Think before you speak." Those are wise words to live by. The tongue is the hardest part of our bodies to maintain control over. It's crazy how it can do so much damage, or so much good. It is up to us which role our words play in people's lives. Will we mess up sometimes? Of course! But we need to make a conscious effort to be more careful with our words and be quick to repent when we do mess up.

I pray today that the words I speak are filled with the love of my Father, rather than the hatred of the enemy. I pray that I am never a mouthpiece for the enemy. I pray that I always am filled with love when I speak. And in those moments when life gets rough, I pray that God gives me the wisdom to speak from His heart, and not from my emotions. And I pray this for all of you as well. So on this beautiful Friday (that is going to be scorching hot!), let's take the words that we speak to children, add a little bit more to it, and apply them in our own lives.

Think of who you are speaking for before you speak! 

"Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by the strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt walter flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."                                                                                                                       ~James 3:1-12

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

50 Shades of Danger

We've all heard the song "Oh be careful little eyes what  you see". We used to sing it in Sunday School and VBS and all of those other great children's programs. I even remember singing it during class in first grade.

(Note: if I have any really young readers out there, you may want to sit this one out. Also, this post is mainly for the ladies, but my male readers out there might still get something out of it.)

I have debated for a few days whether or not I really wanted to write this post. You see, there is a high chance that I will make some of you very angry at me. I hate it when people are angry at me. But I hate it more when I see people's lives fall apart, so you may just have to be angry and I'll put my big girl pants on.

If you can't already guess what I'm going to talk about by the title of this post, then  that is great. But most of you probably do know what the title of the post is referring to, and some of you are probably already rolling your eyes at me, which is okay. 

So here we go. Breath in. Breath out. Let's get started.

Let me just come right out and say it: I hate the double-standard I'm seeing exhibited by so many women today. Ladies, do we want our husbands to watch porn? Do we want him to daydream about other women while we are having sex with him? No?? So why are we being so hypocritical?

"Well I don't watch porn, Sarah, so I don't know what you're talking about." But isn't reading porn the exact same thing? "But, reading erotica novels is just my guilty pleasure. There are no pictures, so it's okay. Besides, my marriage and our sex life is better because of the books I read."

And that is where you are dead wrong. For a woman, reading erotica is the exact same thing as a man sitting down at the computer and watching porn. And here is why: most men are very visual. There brains are hardwired to respond to what their eyes see. Most women are not visual. We respond mainly with our emotions. When we read erotica, we get emotionally attached. We think thoughts like, "I wish my husband was that romantic." "I wish my husband did things like that to me." And then we start holding our husbands up to a standard that he can never achieve. And then we emotionally connect with a character in a book that does not exist because this character is just so perfect and wonderful and why can't our men be just like him?!?

Am I making my point yet? Many women use this excuse: my sex life is boring. Reading erotica helps spice things up. I've even read jokes on Facebook that there is about to be a "50 Shades of Gray baby boom" over the next few months. Ladies, this is NOT okay!! We are supposed to be attracted to and aroused by our husbands, not some book. And you can't tell me that when you get turned on by a book and decide to have sex with your husband, that the sex scenes you just read aren't running through your mind. I can promise you, your husband doesn't want you to have sex with him because of something you read in a book, your husband wants you to have sex with him because you are attracted to him. 

Which takes me back to a statement I made earlier: Do we want him to daydream about other women while we are having sex with him? NO! So can we please kindly repay the favor?

While I am on my soapbox, let me just cover one other thing. I said earlier that most women respond mainly with our emotions, but I am seeing a very alarming trend. I am not sure of the statistics, but visual porn for women is on the rise as well. There is a movie coming out this weekend. If you haven't heard about it, I'm not going to call it by name because I do not want to inadvertently give the movie more sales. But ladies, we need to be staying far away from this movie. First of all, it's rated "R", and second of all, it should be categorized as soft porn. I beg you ladies, don't let junk like that enter your mind and wreck your marriage. I can tell you, I don't even watch the previews for that movie while Roman and I are watching TV. Why? Because the only images I want in my mind is that of my husband. I don't want images of something I've seen on TV pop up during intimate moments with Roman, so I'm not going to let that stuff enter into my mind. And, not to put myself on a platform, but that should be the stand that all of us take.

You see, here is the problem with porn (whether you are reading it or watching it). Porn will present all of these scenarios that are unrealistic. But like a drug, you eventually have to get more and more of it to get the same effect. You may start out reading an erotica novel every now and then. Then you start reading them more and more, and the story lines get more and more intense. Then just reading it isn't enough. Then you start chasing after movies like the one coming out this weekend. Then soft porn isn't enough and you find yourself chasing after more and more and more and more and more....  Suddenly you wake up one day and realize that you are stuck in the middle of a mess. Your marriage is wrecked. Your sex life is damaged. And now you have to either go through the long process of picking up the pieces, or you get a divorce, or you just keep living life in the mess that you've made.

Let me be clear: porn and erotica is one of the best tools Satan has in his tool belt to RUIN your marriage.

So ladies, I BEG you, please don't travel down that road. If you've already started down it, repent to the Lord and talk with your husband. Ask God to cleanse your mind and ask your husband to forgive you and keep you accountable. Please understand that no matter how far you've gone with porn, God can still save you from it. It is going to be a long, hard road to travel, but He will bring you healing and restoration.

And if there are any men reading this: if your wife is reading erotica novels, then you need to be the man of your household and (gently) talk with her about stopping. As her husband, you are the leader and it is part of your job to do everything you can to keep the enemy out of your house and out of your marriage. Sit down with a pastor or mentor or counsellor if you need to, just be active. Pray that God changes her mind. Talk with her! She may feel emotionally distant from you and has seeked out erotica to fill the void. Yes, it will be a difficult conversation to have, but would you rather watch your marriage crumble?

Ladies, again, please stay away from this stuff. It is dangerous. I am not saying that if you read one book your marriage will automatically perish. But Satan will begin taking bits and pieces out of  your marriage over time and eventually several years down the road it will fall apart. So let's all be warriors and fight against this temptation that Satan has put before us. Let's fight for our marriages.

If you want to read more about this issue, I have put several links down at the bottom of this post. All of these had great information and insight into this issue. (Some of these articles are where I got some of my information from.) The authors are great Christian women and I read their blogs daily.

Update: I meant to say this earlier, but please know that I am not judging anyone! I felt moved to write a post on this. If you have/are reading erotica novels, God still loves you and I still love you as well. But He wants you to live a life of purity and holiness. If you repent and ask for His forgiveness, He will help you to do just that.

"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."                                                 ~Hebrews 13:4

"If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." ~Matthew 5:29

"Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them."                                                    ~Colossians 3:18-19

The Warrior Wives; To Love, Honor, and Vacuum-How To; To Love, Honor, and Vacuum-Kindles; To Love, Honor, and Vacuum-50 Shades; Unveiled Wife

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

All Sorts of Stuff

Today I just wanted to update everybody on some of the things going on in our lives...just some behind the scenes stuff today.   :)

First off, my flowers are still living!! Woo hoo!! Maybe I do have a green thumb after all?? The shot on the right is a view of my vibrant flowers from afar, and the shot below is proof that there is new life on those stems. (Don't mind the dead-looking bloom. That one is an old one. focus on the new one that is starting to open up.)   ;)
Sorry if the pictures look a little blurry, it was raining (thank you Tropical Storm Debbie) so I wasn't too focused on making it a pretty shot. 
Woo hoo again on the livelihood of my flowers. I still can't wait until Roman and I find a home (after he finds a job) so that I can have a for-real garden rather than just a flower pot sitting by my steps.  That will be the true test as to whether or not my thumbs are green.

Speaking of Roman and the word "job", he's still hunting. He is actually applying for one on the Marine Base (with me!) today, so say a prayer for us. This job has no relation whatsoever to his college degree, but it's a full-time job making good money. And we could carpool which would further save us $$$. So actually say a bunch of prayers for us!!

I think I mentioned it in an earlier post, but Roman and I are training for a duathlon. It's the same as a triathlon, except take out the swimming part. So, in case I didn't mention it before, we run two miles, bike eleven miles, and then run another two miles. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it. Anyways, we are now one week into our training plan leading us up to the race at the end of September. And because we have an energetic puppy, Duke is getting to train for the race too. In fact, here's a picture of him Saturday morning after we ran/walked for two miles. Doesn't he look excited??

Disclaimer: this is how he lays when he wants his belly scratched. He actually was not that tired and I pay very close attention to him while we exercise to make sure we're not doing too much too soon. I also make sure he stays hydrated and have educated myself on how to tell whether he is dehydrated or not. So please don't call animal control or anything like that on me!!

And lastly, here is a rare shot of my darling kitty, Lauren. She's black (obviously) so a lot of times she doesn't show up too well in pictures, but this time she did. Why in the world she wants to lay on top of my sweaty running clothes is beyond me. She just loves sleeping on my dirty clothes. Weirdo.

Oh, and you see all of that mess around her on the floor? Yea, that's what we get for having a lab puppy. Every stinking night that dog finds some sort of toy to chew up. Let's see, that rope toy used to be twice as long. The white strips of cloth are an old T-shirt we tied into knots that he promptly shredded. The bone is the bone that he's still sort of afraid of, which explains why it is intact. Oh, and those tan pieces? That's pieces of what was once a basket by the front door to hold our shoes. I can actually blame all three of my animals for that one, but Ralph started it. Ralph started chewing on the basket and then when we got Lauren, he taught her to do it. Duke really didn't need any encouragement, but I am sure that Ralph is the one who corrupted him as well. So now I wake up every morning to find a little bit more of the basket gone. In fact, basket is not really the right way to describe it, it's more like a "woven pallet", seeing as how it no longer has walls or handles. Sheesh.

So yup, that's pretty much all I have for you guys today. Maybe if I think about it I'll take a picture of my "woven pallet" to show you guys? Hopefully I will be writing a post soon about Roman's new job!  ;)

"Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow."        ~James 1:17 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Who I Am

"Remind Me Who I Am" by Jason Gray is one of those songs that I've heard a billion time on the radio but never really paid much attention to. Until today. Don't get me wrong, I've always thought it was a good song, I just never really paid a whole lot of attention to the words and how they applied to my life. If you've never heard the song, here are the lyrics:

When I lose my way,
And I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror all I see,
Is who I don't wanna be,
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places,
When I can't remember what grace is.

Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You.
To You.

When my heart is like a stone,
And I'm running far from home,
Remind me who I am.
When I can't receive Your love,
Afraid I'll never be enough,
Remind me who I am.
If I'm Your beloved,
Can You help me believe it.

Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You, whoa.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You.
That I belong to You.
To You.

I'm the one you love,
I'm the one you love,
That will be enough,
I'm the one you love.

Tell me once again who I am to You.
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You, oh.

Tell me once again who I am to You.
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You.
To You.
(lyrics copied from

Here's the thing: we all know John 3:16. Even many non-Christians in America know John 3:16. And most of the time we quote that Scripture without thinking anything about it. We forget just how special we are in God's eyes. I think one of Satan's most successful lies in our world today is that we are worth very little to God. He has a very crafty way of weaving our past into our present and getting us to cling to all of the bad we've done. We say "I'm forgiven", but the way we act and think says differently. Myself included.

Guys, hear me out. There are things that I have done in my past that few people know about. Really bad stuff y'all. Stuff that makes me shudder when I think about it. And I dare say that all of you can say the same thing about yourself. Satan loves that stuff. He loves it when you are having a really awesome day so that he can bring that junk up and ruin it. And when he does that, our minds jump to the same old lies: "I am such a screw up." "I don't deserve God." "God probably doesn't even like me that much. How could He?" "I should just stop trying. My past is just always going to haunt me." Sound familiar? It does to me.

Friends, we have got to STOP with all of this mess. We are all sinners. We have all messed up. And guess what? We are going to mess up again in the future. But the truth is, sin looks the same in God's eyes. When we ask Him for forgiveness, He doesn't weigh our sins on a scale to try and decide if we messed up too bad for Him to forgive us. He doesn't say He's forgiven us and then hold a grudge. Psalm 103:11-12, "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." That Bible verse is not some sort of joke y'all. It's for real. When God says He forgives us, He forgives us. That's it. Our only job at that point is to move forward with Him as a new creation.

Satan is going to bring up your past. But with the power of God in us, we can spit back in his face. "Satan, you have no hold on my life. You can bring up my past all you want to, but I am a forgiven daughter (or son) of Christ. My past is dead. And you will not ruin my future."

I would say that most of us wrestle with out past. Some more than others. I wrestle with mine a lot less than what I used to, but Satan still likes to bring things up when God is really working in my life. But when he does, let's remember who we are in Christ. Let's remember that we truly are His beloved people. Let's remember that He wasn't kidding when He says He loves us. He wasn't kidding when He says He forgives us.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son,  that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) That means that God loved me. He loved you. He loved every person who has ever existed and who will ever exist in the future. There are no "if's" or "but's" in there. There is no requirement for us to look or act a certain way. He. Loves. Us. Just. The. Way. We. Are. The only thing we have to do is believe in Him. Now believing in Him is more than just acknowledging His existence in our minds. No, we must believe in Him in how we talk, how we treat one another, how live our lives every day. But the point is, He loved us even though we are sinners. He died for us despite the fact that we will disobey Him time and time again. He loves us-every single one of us!

So keep your chin up! Don't let Satan barge in and ruin your day. You messed up in your past. So what? That's over now as long as you have repented and asked for forgiveness. Keep on truckin' and tell the enemy to scram. He has no right to dangle your mistakes in your face. You are a forgiven child of the Most High God!!!  :)  :)  :)

And now, I leave you with one of my favorite songs that applies perfectly to this post. It is called "Sound of Melodies" by Leeland.

We who were called to be Your people
Struggling sinners and thieves
We're lifted up from the ashes
And out came the song of the redeemed
The song of the redeemed
The song of the redeemed

Can you hear the sound of melodies
Oh, the sound of melodies
Rising up to You
Rising up to You, God
The sound of melodies
Oh, the sound of melodies
Rising up to You
Rising up to You, God

We have caught a revelation
That nothing can separate us from
The love we received through salvation
It fills your daughters and your sons
Your daughters and your sons

The sound of Your love
The sound of Your love
Is what You're hearing
The sound of Your sons
The sound of Your sons
You've won Your children
The sound of Your love
The sound of Your love
Is what You're hearing
Your daughters in love
Your daughters in love
You've won your children

The sound of melodies
Oh, the sound of melodies
Rising up to You
Rising up to You, God
(lyrics copied from

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation."                                                                                       ~2 Corinthians 5:17-19

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I generally do not post on Sundays, but I wanted to share some things from this morning while everything is fresh in my mind.

First of all, if you are a regular attendee at our church and were not there this morning, you missed a really great service! We missed you a whole lot, and I hope to see you back next week. If you are not a regular attendee of our church, I hope you will come visit us!  :)

I knew all week long that this morning's service would be great. It was one of those "God things"-I just knew. Without going into a whole lot of details, Satan has been attacking our church with a fierce intensity. He has fought hard for the members of our church and the leadership as well. But I can say that we have been fighting back hard against his attacks. And I had a feeling that this morning God was going to show up in a big way. He was going to refresh our spirits and give us strength and peace to keep fighting against the enemy.

So needless to say, I was feeling slightly down when I looked out at the congregation and realized just how few members had shown up for church this morning. "Looks like we'll be singing to the pews this morning" I joked to our Children's Pastor. 

Add to that, I was playing the piano this morning. Confession time: I feel really inadequate some days when I sit down at that piano. I don't know a whole lot, and I definitely can't do all of that fancy pretty stuff. And some days, Satan likes to have a field day in my brain telling me how I can't play and how everyone is just sitting out in the congregation thinking about how bad I am. 

So there is the full scenario: an enemy that has relentlessly attacked our church, a small congregation, and a piano player that felt two inches tall. 

Funny how God can take a little and turn it into something big.

As soon as the worship service began, I could feel the presence of God. I could feel that He was in the room, and He was getting ready to do something big. At the beginning of the last song, I felt His presence so thick that I could barely breath. It took everything in me just to push the words of the song out. The weight of His glory was definitely in the room, and I am certain the whole church could feel it.

I cried. There were times were I wasn't even sure I was singing anymore. And I really didn't care. I was reminded of why I play the piano and sing-why I love worshiping God so much. You see, it's not about who can play the best or who can sing the best or who seems the most passionate. It's all about showing our Lord just how much we love Him. It's all about that communication of gratefulness and love to our Savior. 

I thought that was all God wanted from us that morning, but He wasn't through. At the end of the song, our Pastor came up. He invited people to come down to the alter if they needed prayer. I stayed where I was and continued playing. After praying for the ones who had come, he explained that he normally didn't do what he was about to do, but he was about to call specific people to the front for prayer. "My name won't be called, I'm good." I thought to myself. (One of those things I've thought to myself that I'm pretty sure makes God laugh.) "Sarah Casterline". The voice of my Pastor came through the speaker. And God said, "Think again." 

I have a very nasty habit of assuming that I have everything under control. That I can stand the heat when Satan really starts throwing those fiery darts at my heart. But if I had to be totally honest, the truth is that I have more break downs and bad days than good days when I have that kind of attitude. To think that I can handle the heat all by myself is silliness. To think that I can have dart after dart thrown at me without eventually wearing down and needing some help is, well, just plain dumb. 

But that is exactly where I found myself. Roman's job situation. My job situation. Our finances. And just the general uncertainty of the future has been the constant occupant on my brain. There are some days where I am strong and can stay positive. There are other days when I have a total breakdown that lasts anywhere from thirty minutes to twelve hours. When my mind and my spirit is completely overwhelmed and I just want to throw in the towel and stop trying. God is standing right there, offering His help and some days I just refuse to take it. Silly me. 

Today was a day where God was so close I could barely breath. He's always with me, my pride just chooses to ignore Him some days. Today was a day where God healed a lot of hurt in my past. He told me what He thought of me. He erased the lies that Satan had put in my head. He reminded me of His promises. He calmed my anxious heart. He gave me a time of cleansing. He gave me strength and He gave me peace.

Scientists argue that God doesn't exist because we can't see Him. But I don't have to see Him to know He is there. I could hardly breath, the air was so thick with Him. Scientists can try to explain my experience away, but there is no other valid explanation.  My God is alive and well. He still heals us. He still strengthens us. He is still with us. 

God set me free from a whole bunch of stuff today. He wants to do the same for you....will you let Him?

"Realize that the Lord shows the godly special favor; the Lord responds when I cry out to Him."                                                                                ~Psalm 4:3

"You make me happier than those who have abundant grain and wine. I will lie down and speak peacefully, for You, Lord, make me safe and secure."     ~Psalm 4:7-8

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dear World

Dear World,

I believe it is high time we set some things straight. You have been bothering me for quite some time on many different issues, so perhaps if you got to know me better you would leave me alone. If not, I will at least have the comfort of getting this off of my chest.

I am not a model. I am not six feet tall, and my pants are much larger than a size zero. My hair has a mind of its own, and my teeth are not as white as a sheet of paper. I cannot wear ten-inch heels, and I prefer to cover up certain regions of my body unless I am at home with my husband. I care more about my beauty on the inside than I do my beauty on the outside.

I am not some kind of superwoman. I do not care if I become CEO of a company. I do not care if I ever make triple digits. I do not care if I have that name-brand purse or fancy car. I am not striving for earthly riches. I am lucky if I can even wake up on time and get to work with some sort of make-up on my face and a matching pair of shoes on my feet. Some women are more than capable to handle things like that, but that is just not my cup of tea. I am not meant to run a company of 3,000 people. That would be disastrous for all parties involved.

And while I'm talking about all of that, let me just say this: I probably will never get my Master's degree. I am sorry that you believe education is the only way to be successful. I paid my dues and worked hard for my Bachelor's and unless things drastically change in my life, this is the highest degree I will ever receive. If this is not good enough for you, then get over it. I know Someone who is able to take five loaves of bread and feed thousands. Figure that one out. I am sure He can use my education for what He wants.

I refuse to be some sort of fierce, controlling woman who rules over my husband. He is the leader of my family and always will be. I am his helper. And I will not stand for this new idea that women are higher than men and that men are dumb creatures who are lazy and whose sole purpose in life is to make us happy and help populate the earth. All of that is hogwash, and I will not believe it. I will respect my husband. I will pray for him. I will be his helper and his support. I will not let him walk on me like a door mat, but he will be the master of our home. I know this is a crazy thing to believe, but things are meant to be this way and homes function much better when households operate like this.

I am not perfect. I am not the most beautiful in the world. I can not run the fastest, jump the highest, sing the prettiest, or be the funniest. I am just me. But for whatever reason, you want me to forget the me that I am and turn into a me that isn't me. Catch my drift? But I am the me that I was created to be and you cannot take me away from me.

You see, here's the thing. There is a God. A God that you care nothing about, but He means the world to me. And the thing is, I care a whole lot more about what He thinks about me than what anyone else thinks about me. What does He think about me, you may ask?

He thinks I am beautiful. He thinks I am smart. He thinks I am special. And He thinks that I spend way to much time thinking about what others think. And He is right about all of these things. And do you know what else? He thinks the same thing about every other human being that He has ever created. And He doesn't just think all of these things, He shows me the love that proves His thoughts. I will never be enough for you, world, but I am already exactly what He wants, exactly as I am.

So this is me, telling you, that I could really care less what you say about me. You can call me ugly. You can call me fat. You can tell me that I need to wax my eyebrows. You can tell me to get more education. You can tell me to revolve my life around my job. You can tell me to lord over my husband with pride and a mean spirit. And you can tell me these things as many times as you want to.

But your voice will fall on deaf ears. Because my ears are listening to the melody that Jesus sings to me everyday. And it is far sweeter than your trash. I would tell you I'm sorry, but I'm really not sorry at all. Because life is so much better when I'm singing a song with my Creator.



"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."                                                                                       ~Provers 31:10-31

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let's Play The "Thank You" Game

Sometimes, I can't help but think that most Americans -yes, even the Christian ones- are just spoiled bratts. Ouch. Quite the opening statement, huh? But seriously....we ask God for things all of the time. "Lord, don't let me be sick with this cold." "Lord, can you stop the clock so I can sleep a little bit more?" "Lord, can I please get that promotion at work?" "Lord, heal this person." "Lord, do ______" We ask and we ask and then we ask some more, but do we ever thank Him?

I know this morning I was doing a whole lot of whining. Actually, the whining started yesterday afternoon. I had a really bad headache that started up around lunch time and carried on until this morning-even though I took medicine twice. On top of that, I was just in a sad mood. I don't know why, nothing bad happened at work, but I was just really sad. As in, I walked in the front door of my house crying for no reason which left my husband wondering what in the world was wrong with his hormonal, emotional, strange wife. That kind of sad mood. I still don't know why I was sad, but thank goodness I'm over that now.

Anyways, so I spent most of my morning whining to God about a number of different things. My job. Our finances. Roman's job that he hasn't gotten yet. My messy house. My addiction to anything that starts with the Letter 'C' and ends in 'hocolate'. Why does getting into shape have to be so hard? Why does paying off debt have to be so hard? Why can't the air conditioner just cool down the house? Yea, you get the point. As I was driving to work, I get a text message on my phone through my church's prayer list. One of our church members who was in an accident several week ago is back in the hospital. She has an infection in her leg. This is the millionth time she has had to go back into the hospital. Right now, the doctors are just trying to save her leg. Trying to not have to do surgery. Trying to make this as painless as possible.

For the first time that morning I shut up. And God finally had the opportunity to talk.

She would give anything to get in her car and drive herself to work, Sarah. Even if she didn't like her job. She would give anything just to not be in that hospital bed. And what about My children in third world countries? They are starving to death. What about the missionaries who are being persecuted for following Me? You need to understand that I understand what You are going through, and I will be with you through it all. But You also need to stop focusing on yourself so much, and start thanking Me for everything I've done for you.

Can I get an Amen? That was very painful for my heart to hear, but it was also very needed. And I feel like I am not the only one who needs to hear something along those lines. I see a nation of people who can go from zero to red-faced-angry in less than a second--all because someone cut them off in traffic. And yes, I am one of those people in a nation of many. And yes, I also proclaim to be a Christian. And yes, I am the worship pastor at my church. Ouch.

So, my dearest friends, can we just take a moment to chill out? Can we have a little attitude adjustment? A little come-to-Jesus meeting? Because I need to be a person who knows how to tell God "thank You". And I don't just need to know how to say thanks, but I need to actually say the words with my MOUTH. Out loud. Every day. And I think that if our self-centered nation would do the same, then maybe, just maybe, we could be a happier, less stressed, group of people.

So let's all play the Thank You Game. It's really quite simple, with only two rules:
1) Thank God every day for something He has done.
2) Use your actual vocal chords.
Not hard, right? I challenge all of you to put some real thought into this. Get creative. Try it for a few minutes and I promise your mood will get a little better.  And for those of you are 'thinking-challenged', I'll even make it easy for you. I'll list off everything I thanked God for in the car on my way to work (after He stomped all over my toes and I repented for my extreme un-thankfulness.)

Example #1: Thank Him for yourself. I know, it can be hard, especially for us women. But God made each of us beautiful and wonderful, and we need to thank Him for that. Here are some of mine:
Thank You for my long blond hair and my pretty blue eyes. Thank You for my brain that is so quick to learn new things. Thank You for my musical talents. Thank You for my strong legs that let me run every day. Thank You for my health. Thank You for my creativity.

Example #2: Thank Him for other people in your life.
Thank You for my husband-he is so strong and supportive and kind. Thank You for giving me a man who treats me so well and who loves You so much. Thank You that he thinks I am beautiful when I don't, and can make me laugh even when I cry for now reason. Thank You for my parents and for his parents. Thank You that they both have modeled a strong marriage relationship for us to copy. Thank You for their wisdom and guidance. Thank You for our Pastor and his wife. Thank You for giving us such strong leaders in our church. Thank You for our friends and for all of the happiness they bring us. Thank You for our darling three pets who make us smile every day.

Example #3: Thank Him for what He has done for you.
Thank You for our two vehicles that take us to work, and for the house that protects us from the outdoors. Thank You for our jobs. Thank You for our ability to make money in order to pay our bills. Thank You for bringing us through the first two years of our marriage. Thank You for providing for us every day. Thank You for blessing us, even when we don't deserve it. Thank You for healing me earlier this year.

Example #4: Thank Him  for who He is.
Thank You for being a God of love and mercy. Thank You for being a God who disciplines us so that we can one day walk with  You. Thank You for dying on that cross. Thank You for listening to us, even when we whine. Thank You for being so beautiful. So holy. So strong. Thank You for protecting us from the enemy-You do things for us that we will never even know. Thank You for being our Creator.

Example #5: Thank God for what He will do in the future. Speak your requests into existence. Your prayers are powerful!
Thank You for Roman's job. Thank You that it will be something wonderful that he will enjoy waking up and doing. Thank You for our future home. Thank You for our future (way-future) healthy children. Thank You for leading us into a place where we are debt-free.

Example #6: If all else fails, thank Him for the most random things you can think of:
Thank You for the sun. Thank You for that tree. Thank You for that granola bar I ate two days ago. Thank You for clean water. Thank You for the rain. Thank You for my comfy pillow. Thank You for making tasty things for us to eat. Like chocolate salad. Thank You for smiles. Thank You for fingernail polish. Thank You for fingernail polish remover because I stink at painting my fingernails. Thank You for nail salons so that I don't have to paint my fingernails.
I think I have more than made my point. So ladies and gentlemen, can we please please please try to be more thankful today? After all, we are breathing today which is something in and of itself that we can be thankful for! So quit being grouchy and whiny and thank God for something today. Do it with your whole family-teach your kids that thanking God is an important task to do every day. Do it while you're driving down the road after a tough day at work. Just say thanks. Because He is so worthy, and we are so blessed.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."   ~Psalm 23

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Job Update, Flowers, and the Last of the Cruise

Yes, I realize it has been a full week since my last blog post. Oops. To be honest, it has been crazy busy around the Casterline household and here at work so I honestly just have not had the time to post something. I value my sleep more. Sorry guys.  :)

But for all of you who have been crying because of my absence every day for the past week, I'm here now. Go blow your nose and come back. I'll wait.   .......are we good now? Okay.

The main update I have for you guys is concerning Roman's job situation. We have good news and bad news. Good news: We found out today that his transcripts were received by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). This, in and of itself is a pure miracle...seeing as how the first time we requested that ASU send his transcripts, they sent it to the FDLE in Atlanta, GA. I don't know about you guys, but the last time I checked, Florida does not belong in Atlanta. I was bad at Geography in school, but not that bad. That school never ceases to amaze me, but we won't get into any other stories. Anyways, they have all of his stuff and the six-ish?? jobs he applied for all close on June 30th.

Now for the bad news: Apparently he did not apply for an actual job, but rather to be placed into a job pool. Now that he is in the job pool with his completed application/transcripts, WHEN an actual vacancy comes open he may be called for an interview. "When" being the key word here. I have to be honest, my heart sunk to the ground when he told me all of this on the phone today. I was so looking forward to the possibility that in a couple of months we could finally be moving out of that darn trailer mobile home and into (hopefully) a for-real house that has a for-real air conditioner with for-real insulation to keep the for-real cold air inside!!

Of course, there may already be job vacancies now. That's our next step: Get in contact with human resources and ask if there are any actual job vacancies open now and if not, how often they generally have vacancies in the departments he has applied for. I am still hoping and praying that this works out, because as of right now our only back-up plan is for Roman to apply for the police department as an officer.....which neither one of us want to happen. Yes, I understand that sometimes you have to do what you have to do in order to get things done. But honestly, we just don't want to settle for that. We are still praying that God shows up in a huge, big, gigantic, miraculous way and plops a really great job down in Roman's lap. Because He is God, and He can do all sorts of cool things like that. So y'all keep praying with us, okay??

Onto the next subject! I am attempting to murder grow some flowers!!

I was given some marigolds from a good friend at church. She had some extras so I decided to take some and try my hand at not killing plants and things. And no, the picture above is not what my flowers look like, that's what they will hopefully look like if I am successful. Right now, my flowers look like this:

I managed to transplant them into a nice 16" planter that I bought from Wal-Mart. Right now they are chilling out in my front yard, but they were starting to look a little sad yesterday afternoon so I may move them somewhere else so that they will spend less time in the scorching sun. We shall see how this new endeavor turns out. Hopefully these little guys will survive.......    0;)

And now for the last of the cruise pictures. These are some pictures we took while visiting Cozumel, Mexico. Enjoy!

This is where we ate. The food was AMAZING!

Some kind of cool sculpture thingy.


The beach

There were lots of these riding up and down the streets

After a fun day of shopping.  :)

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"    ~Matthew 6:25-27

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

God Loves the Misfits

A big thank you to everyone that wished me a Happy Birthday yesterday. It was a good day. I didn't really do a whole lot....ran 1.23 miles (yes, the .23 counts!) after work, ate lasagna at my mom's, watched a movie with my hubby (while Duke barked at the surround sound system), and rode my new bike. Yes, that's right. I am 22 years old and I asked for a bike for my birthday. And I was more than a little bit excited when my parents rolled it into the living room. My body may be 22 years old, but I'm pretty sure the inside of me is only 7. Maybe 8 on a good day.                    Isn't it just beautiful??

I had seriously forgotten how hard it was to ride a bike. It's been so long. Stationary bikes just aren't the same. But now I can for real start training for the duathlon I am competing for in September. I have a loooong way to go, but I am excited. But now that I've got Roman on board with me, it may be easier for me to get motivated to train. I'm going to kick his butt. (Love you darling!)  :)

But let me tell you, I'm so glad that God loves my silly self. Because that is exactly how I would describe myself: silly. I like to be a total goofball. Spend one day with me and Roman and you will understand. Example: yesterday, every time I called Roman he answered the phone by singing Happy Birthday to me. The full song. And added weird voices to it to make it different every time. Another example: sometimes we break out into strange songs at random and sing scream at the top of our lungs. Yesterday's song was "Bicycle Race" by Queen. The Lion King song is a popular one around our house. But hey, it keeps us laughing even on our worst days and I like to think God smiles every time, maybe even laughs, shoot, maybe He even sings with us. He probably just laughs.

But I'm glad that He loves us just the way we are. I'm glad He loves everybody just the way we are. We don't have to come to Him as perfect with all of our lives figured out. He wants us to come before Him as silly, imperfect, even in the middle of a mess that we created with our own two hands.

I was reminded of this last night while reading my Bible. I've been sticking to the gospels a lot lately, and God has shown me all kinds of new stuff that I've never noticed before. (Crazy how He can take something you've read numerous times and still show you new stuff.) I was reading in Mark 2:

"While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Him and His disciples, for there were many who followed Him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw Him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked His disciples, 'Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?' On hearing this, Jesus said to them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (verses 15-17)

I could almost hear my heartbeat as I read that last verse "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." The gravity of His words pounded in my heart. What an awesome thing to know! The same God that created everything we see, the same God that is righteous and holy and perfect, the same God that can raise people from the dead, that same God is after my heart. And He wants my heart just the way it is. He doesn't want me to try and get my life in order before coming to Him (like I could even do that by myself anyways-but we sure try). He doesn't want me to strive for perfection so that I feel like I deserve His love. No, He wants my heart just the way it is. He wants my life, just the way it is.

He wants me. My silly self. My silly self who was late for work for the millionth time this morning. My silly self who pitches a fit when I get a nasty e-mail from a co-worker. My silly self who lets her pride get in the way every day. My silly self who will skip her devotions because she's too sleepy. My silly self who forgot to do the laundry for the third day in a row. He wants me! All of me!

I don't know about you guys, but I have made some dumb, stupid mistakes in my 22 years of living. I spent an entire year of my life running hard and fast from my faith. I mess up every single day and fall short of perfection on a constant basis. So to read that God calls the sinners like me to carry out His plans just blows my mind!

I wanted to share this with all of you, because I know I'm not the only one out there who feels totally inadequate. Truth be told, there are Sundays when I sit down to play the piano and think "I can't do this. I'm not good enough to sit here." There are days when I doubt my self-worth. And I know I'm not alone in this. Truth be told, the enemy wants us to feel like we aren't good enough for God. Because if we feel like we aren't good enough for God, we'll stop running after Him. And when we stop running after Him, our spiritual lives wither and die. And then he's won the battle for our souls. So don't give him that victory, because God wants you exactly how you are. Stop listening to the lies of the enemy that say you're not good enough for God.

No matter what you've done. No matter what you're doing today. No matter what you'll do in the future. God wants all of us. Silliness and all, He wants us. Even when we scream the Lion King theme song at the top of our lungs.

Thank You GOD, for loving the misfits. Thank You that I don't have to be perfect to come to You, I just need to want You. Thank You for giving me a purpose in Your plan. I am forever indebted to You. I love You.

"On hearing this, Jesus said to them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'"  Mark 2:17

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Whole Lot of Stuff

I debated for a few minutes on what to call this post.... "Cruisin' (Part 3) & New Year's Resolutions"? "How Has it Already Been a Year since I Turned 21"? "Cruisin' (Part 3)"? "Too Much on My Mind"? So I gave up and came up with the most original name I could think of. "A Whole Lot of Stuff". I know, I'm a genius.

Anywho, let this serve as a warning to you people who might hate reading.....just skip to the end and look at the pretty pictures. Because I have a whole lot of stuff to say. So here it goes, don't say I didn't warn you.

Today I turn 22 years old. If you want to be all technical about it, I was born around 3:30 so I'm still 21. And yes, I do want to be all technical about it because I inherited my sister's dislike for birthdays. Don't get me wrong, I love presents and I love being alive, but life just goes by way too fast and birthdays are good reminders of that. I mean, has it really already been a year since I turned 21? This has got to be some sort of joke, right? Sheesh, time has really got to start slowing down! Just the other day I was talking to a friend from high school. We were totally amazed that it has now been four years since we graduated high school and now we're graduating from college!!!! Aaaaah!!!!!!! Next time we turn around we'll be pushing thirty. So if I have any readers that are still in middle school or high school, quit wishing for the future because the next time you blink you'll be turning 22. And you also won't remember a thing you learned from high school.....other than how to sleep and still take notes.....and how to pee, change books, and walk to the other side of campus in under four minutes. (okay fine, I do remember some other stuff's just not as fun to talk about.) ((stay in school guys!!))

Yes, I am well aware of the fact that turning 22 does not make me old. And I am also aware of the fact that I should be grateful for my birthdays because that means I'm still alive. I'm just saying, the clock needs to go on summer break or something. Goodness.

Bahaha...I just noticed the clock on my computer says it is 2:22. And I'm turning 22. Yay for twos! You will have to excuse me, I had caffeine today so the ADD is going to be really really really bad.

Back on track!! So the moral of the story is, enjoy your life because the clock hates all of us and likes to run laps around our birthdays. While at the same time making Monday-Friday last for an eternity. That clock sure is a sneeky one!

So anyways, I have a "New Year's Resolution" list of sorts to share with you guys. Seeing as how I am entering into my personal new year of living.  I figured maybe if I post it for all the world to read, I might do a better job of actually doing it. Time will tell.
  1. Be more timely (work, church, etc. I really stink at being on time. Seriously guys.)
  2. Complete a duathlon (same as a triathlon, just without the swimming. Which is good because I unfortunately do not own an Olympic sized pool or a lake to train in.)
  3. Achieve an overall level of fitness (more on that later)
  4. Move out of that darn trailer mobile home.
I think that's enough for one year, don't you? As far as my plan to achieve all this....I kinda sorta have one....

As far as being on time goes, that's a self-discipline issue that me and God are working out. I have always been a person who struggles to be on time for anything. I think that means I was meant to be a Hispanic and God must've put me in the wrong country. (That was not a racist comment....the Hispanic culture doesn't place as much value on time as we do. Therefore they will be late for work because it is more important to stop on the sidewalk and talk to a family member than be on time.) So God is working on my stubborn self as far as getting out of the bed and into the shower goes. There are a lot of other mental/emotional factors that play into my extreme late-ness, but I'm not going into that here.

The duathlon is simple. There's one in Albany in September. I am going to sign up. I am going to compete. And I'm going to get my lazy self to train for it between now and then so I don't die while completing said race. The end.  :)

Achieving an overall level of fitness is something that I've got to do. I think that my high school years of eating nothing but a bag of chips for lunch and then running seven miles that afternoon has caught up with me, seeing as how my immune system stinks. This was an issue my doctor brought up with me at the beginning of the year. I've got to start incorporating more healthy foods into my diet because my immune system is not going to work for me unless I give it the right kind of fuel. I also read a really great book a few weeks ago called "Made to Crave" by Lysa TerKeurst that I believe is going to help me on this journey. Disclaimer: This is NOT a diet. I do NOT think I'm obese. So please, no comments on how I'm skinny as a bird and can eat whatever I want to. Because the fact of the matter is, since I've been married I've gained 15 pounds and have lost my ability to run over a mile without severe gasping for air and thoughts of eating chocolate. So this isn't about looking like a model out of a magazine, this is about me wanting to take care of the body God gave me so I can live as long as possible without having a heart attack or stroke or high cholesterol or any of that other mess that comes with eating fast food five times a week. (No, I don't eat fast food five times a week, that was an exaggeration.) Whew! Enough of that! (PS: Do you know how hard it is to do a push up with a cute puppy laying underneath you? Especially when he insists on licking your face every time you lower your wobbly arms down towards the floor? Well, let me tell you, it's hard!!)

Last goal: moving. The mobile home has served us well during our first couple of years of marriage, but quite frankly, 85 degrees during the summer while the air conditioner runs all day and gives me an electricity bill higher than my parents who live in a two story house is getting really old for us. Along with the fact that the hot water heater only provides 15 minutes of hot water. And there are cats living under our trailer. And the floor still feels like one day its going to fall through in the laundry room. So yes, we are ready to move. Hopefully by the end of this summer, Roman will know something from all the jobs he has applied for. The goal is, once he gets a job, we find a house for rent somewhere close by but still in the country. So I'm really praying God makes that a reality for us. Lord forbid we have to spend a third summer in that hot trailer.

So there. It's all in the open now. Those are my goal for this coming year, and of course I'll be sure to keep you guys posted on how things come along. Hopefully my 22nd year of life is full of some big changes!  :)

I also wanted to share a valuable lesson I learned today. It's not like I haven't heard this lesson before, it's just that today God proved it to me and I thought it was cool. A few days ago, a higher employee in my office sent an e-mail about me. I'm not going to go into a bunch of details, but let's just leave it at this: my feelings were slightly hurt by the words she said and who they were said to. My instinct was to make a big deal out of it. I wanted to tell my supervisor. I wanted to rant and rave and talk about how unfair it was. But for once, my stubborn head listened to God as He told me to just let it go and calm down. And I did. I quit talking about it. I forgave the person. And I didn't let it ruin my day. Today, that individual came to me to apologize. She explained her actions, and I was quick to give her forgiveness and assured her that everything was fine between us. This NEVER would have happened had a made a big deal out of the situation last week like I wanted to. After she left my cubicle, God quietly said, "You just have to let me handle things like this. I do it better than you can." Moral of the story: it really is better if we just shut our mouths and let God handle our conflicts for us. He sees the bigger picture. And we're not showing people His love by blowing up every time something doesn't go our way. Cool, huh? Hopefully now that I've experienced this golden nut of truth, my mouth will stay shut more often at work.

Told you this would be a long one. For all you people who are just scrolling through looking for the pretty pictures, here they are! These are some pictures from our visit to the Cayman Islands during our cruise two weeks ago. The beach and the water here was so pretty, but unfortunately there was a lot of construction and development going on inside the city. You may see some of the cranes in the background and you'll see what I mean. But still, I loved the beach!

Coming up to the shore

Our boat is on the right

Hello Carnival!

Tiny church tucked into the busy street. Love it.

The beach! Along with a nasty storm forming off the coast

All smiles for us!

Another shot of the beach

Tried to capture how clear the water was, this picture doesn't do it justice!

Back on the boat watching the last ferry deliver passengers.

Bye Cayman!

"So Jesus called them over to Him and began to speak to them in parables: 'How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man's house.'"           ~Mark 3:23-27