Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wait on the Lord

Whew! Has anyone else's week flown by, or is it just me? I'm all off-balance because I've been doing training all week at work. So not only have I spent my entire week struggling to stay awake and NOT spending my time in front of a computer screen, I've had to spend my entire week learning about statistics. 

I did not enjoy college. One of the main reasons I didn't enjoy it? My statistics classes. Imagine my joy when I was asked to attend a statistics class for a week by my boss. Now you understand.All I'm saying is, thank you God for games on my phone and strong coffee.....because I've totally needed them both this past week.  ;)

I was talking to my Pastor yesterday about some things, and a comment he made has been stuck in my mind ever since: "We will just have to wait on the Lord and see what He does."

At first, it seems like something simple, but when you stop to think about it, that one sentence really is quite profound. 

Roman and I have been dealing with some heavy stuff lately. I may go into more detail later, but here's a quick run-down:
  • Some health-female stuff on my end
  • Financial problems (can anyone say "government furlough"???)
  • An issue with a close family member
In all three of these problems, I'm incredibly limited on what I can do. Sure, I can spend money wisely, but when you lose $550 of your net pay per month due to a furlough, there's only so much you can do. And as far as the other two items go.......well, my only real option is to pray about them and leave them up to God.

That is why that one sentence has really stuck with me. As Roman and I walk through some tough times together, we can take comfort in one thing: the Lord will fight for us.

The Lord is working on my health issue.

The Lord is working in our finances.

The Lord is working with my troubled family member.

My one true job in all of this is to simply hand everything over to Him in prayer, and then wait to see what He does. And oh yes, stop stressing about it while I'm waiting.  ;)

I'm sure Roman and I are not the only ones dealing with at least one difficult issue right now, so let me just encourage you to wait and see what the Lord will do in your situation. I promise you He will not leave you to walk through this alone. You may not see the results of your prayers right. this. minute. But rest assured, He's working on your behalf!

Tomorrow is my furlough day, making today my "Friday" (the only good part about a furlough!), so I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!! Tomorrow I'm going to make believe I'm on the beach and eat ice cream. Because seriously, my brain has GOT to recover from all the statistics. Sheesh. 

"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."  ~Exodus 14:14

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WFMW: Building a Box-Garden

This summer, Roman and I...okay fine, really just Roman, tried his hand at gardening. In one aspect, it worked out really well. We had an abundance of squash, zucchini, and cucumbers and were able to give some away. Some of the plants didn't do as well, such as the watermelon, tomato, and bellpeppers. But one thing we quickly found out: weeding is annoying. And so we didn't do it. At all. Causing our garden to look like this:

Picture that mess on a much larger scale, because that is only the last few plants of our garden that are left after Roman mowed the rest of it down.

We He really didn't like the work, but we really loved all of the fresh produce our garden produced. So for our fall garden, we decided to try building a box-garden. The way a box-garden is constructed is supposed to drastically cut down on the growth of weeds, which means it requires less maintenance. Sold. So for anyone else who is curious, here are the steps we took to build ours:

Step One: Gather materials.

You will need four boards to construct the box, a plastic tarp or some trash bags to lay on the bottom (this is what helps stop the growth of weeds), and then dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. Oh yea, and then you'll need to actually buy what you want to plant in your garden. That's kind of necessary as well.

Step Two: Assemble the box.

Pretty simple. All you do is lay out the boards in a square, then screw the corners together. Just make sure that everything is nice and even on your corners and Voila! You have a giant box.

supervisor dog not required

Step Three: Lay down the plastic.

Before we laid down the plastic, Roman scalped the grass in the box with a weed eater, just to further discourage growth. But if you don't have a weed eater, this is not required. After he got done, we had a thick black tarp that we laid down in the center of the box. We then went around the edges with large trash bags, placing them under the boards and covering the entire area. You can see in the second picture where we pulled the edges of the plastic out from under the boards by a few inches. We did that just to ensure no sneaky weeds would start growing up under the boards and find their way into our garden.

Step Four: Fill the box with dirt.

I'm not going to lie, doing this step in the heat of the day with 90% humidity made me think I was dying. We had gotten some dirt from my dad's house (he shoveled some into a trailer with his tractor), so we had to shovel out all of that dirt from the back of the trailer into the box. We paused halfway through to break for lunch (and cool off), so that helped. But still. It was a lot of dirt, yo.

Suddenly, I hate gardening
Step Five: Get everything nice and even.

Pretty straightforward. You just want to make sure your dirt is as even as possible so all of your plants have enough soil for their roots.

Step Six: Figure out the spacing for your plants.

This will definitely require you to do a little bit of homework on what you're planting. For instance, squash and cucumbers need a TON of room to grow, whereas bellpeppers and tomatoes do not. So figure out what kind of room each of your plants need, and then space them out accordingly.

Scoot over cucumber, you're all up in my grill

Step Seven: Plant your plants.

This part is easy. Just dig the holes and place the plants inside. We bought actual plants (obviously) rather than seeds. Sure, buying the plant is more expensive (we paid $3 for each plant), but you generally have MUCH better success rates over planting seeds, and you get your produce quicker, so that works for us.

Step Eight: Water your plants.

Duh. But just in case, don't forget this last step. How often you water your plants is determined by what you planted and how much shade your garden gets. Our garden sits in direct sunlight pretty much from sun-up to sun-down, so we water our garden just about every day. If you are new to gardening, you will just have to use trial and error to figure out what's best. If plants look like they are drying up, water more. If they look healthy and are growing, keep doing what you're doing. Look at you, you gardening pro.

I'm ready for my close-up
And for all you haters out there, look whose flowers are still alive. MINE.

Haterz gonna hate
Box-gardening really work for us!!

Note: I am not a gardening expert and neither is my husband. So anything I tell you to do may or may not work for where you live/what you plant. Don't hate me, let's just be friends, m'kay?

"Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God." ~Psalm 92:13

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thank You!

I just want to say thank you for all of the support and encouragement you all have given me in the creation of the new blog-Faith Marriage and Family. So many have you have said such kind words over the past week and they mean so much to me! You guys are the BEST!!

It’s crazy to me how quickly this new blog has caught on, and I can tell that God has big plans with it because the enemy has been pushing hard against me this past week.

I’ve had some awful days at work. I’ve had some not-so-great news from the doctor. I’ve had some allergy issues this week and some bad headaches. I’ve lost a bunch of sleep. And oh-my-goodness the finances. Holy moly. The enemy has been throwing everything he’s got at me, and for a little while it seemed like he was winning.

…..especially when I cried so hard Thursday that I gave myself a migraine. Ahem. Just keeping it real, folks.

Thank the Lord that we serve a gracious God! For every dart the enemy has thrown at me, Jesus has been with me every step of the way.

For every hardship, He has given me peace.

For every doubtful thought or lie from the enemy stating that I’ll never be the writer I want to be, one of you have offered encouragement—without even knowing I needed it!

For every financial situation, He has made a way.

For every bad doctor visit, He has given me hope and healing.

I’m telling you this just to simply say, when things go wrong in your life as you are trying to do what you know is God’s will, take heart! This only means that the devil doesn’t like it because you’re doing something right! And as long as we are following Christ’s will for our lives, all of these hardships will be totally worth it. He will fight for you and give you the peace and strength you need to make it through, I promise!

Again, thank you all for your support—your prayer and words of encouragement have meant so much to me this past week. Keep the faith, dear friends. And let’s continue to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we never know when they might need a smiling face and helpful words!

“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’” ~Matthew 16:24-26

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Blog Announcement!

Holy moly. The past two days have been insane!
So……if you haven’t heard already……the new blog is up! I announced it on Facebook Tuesday night and sent out a bunch of invitations to some of my friends for them to go like the new Facebook page and check out my first post, but the blog was not actually “ready” until yesterday evening because I was still playing with internet code and all that wonderful stuff.
I actually didn’t mean to launch the site for public view until I actually finished playing with code (so sorry if you’ve visited a few times and have seen fifty different versions of the same site), but then a few things happened:
1.       I realized there was no way I could see how the website looked on multiple computers unless I went ahead and published it.
2.      I already had a post written and ready to go.
3.      I accidentally hit “launch” and published it before it was ready. Oops.
I must say, that was probably one of the most complicated things I’ve ever done. I am no technological expert (see #3 above), so learning how to write Internet code in order to fix certain aspects of the new site was like learning how to read Chinese. Only except the Chinese use actual WORDS when they speak and not symbols like { > : {   ….that kind of looks like a frowny face. Totally unintentional.
Anyways, the new blog is called Faith, Marriage & Family. The main goal of the blog is to encourage women in all the major aspects of life: our walk with the Lord, our marriages, and our families. Not married? That’s totally cool. I’ll be talking just as much about living a godly life as I will about marriage. Don’t have kids? That’s cool too, because I don’t either (yet). So until I do I’ll just cover topics like what to do when you have a “trouble-maker” in the family, or should you lend family money or what to do when you have bad in-laws (note: my in-laws are awesome!). Not a woman? That’s still cool. Feel free to check it out because I’m sure many of my posts will be helpful to you guys as well. And if not, you can still hang out here. Life with the Casterlines is not going anywhere.  :)
Like I mentioned before in this post, I plan to post here three times a week in addition to running the new blog. It’s just that this new blog will share a lot less personal details (such as my last name in the title) and will be a little more focused. You still get to enjoy my ADD here though. Congratulations.  O.o
Seriously, thank you to everyone who has already supported me. The response to the new blog announcement was amazing and very encouraging. So many of you have encouraged me over the past year and two months as I’ve started writing and it means so much to me. I love you guys!
So, without further ado, please check out the new blog by clicking here. And if you haven’t already, click on over to Facebook and like the new page by clicking here.  :)  :)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!" ~2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Story of His Faithfulness

Sometimes God does things that take us by surprise. We may not have been asking Him to move in a certain part of our lives, but then He suddenly does. This happened with us last August when we found ourselves moving in a much bigger and nicer house, even though we hadn’t even been looking for one (if you missed that saga of life events, you can read about it here and here.)
I had not announced this on the blog or anything, but Roman has to get braces. Without going into detail, he had some issues with his teeth that we had always thought were no big deal, only to find out that it is a very big deal and needs to be corrected as soon as possible. Next Thursday he’ll go in to have a tooth pulled and then get the braces put on. We’re both excited, but a little nervous too.
I knew he would need the braces last year, so when open season for health insurance rolled around last December, I did an in-depth analysis to try and find a new dental insurance plan that would cover orthodontics for patients over the age of 18 years old. There weren’t any, which meant that we would have to foot the $4,800 bill on our own. Yippee! You can imagine how much more thrilled I was when I got slapped with a furlough letter just a few weeks before his appointment.
But we were going to be okay. I moved some things around in the budget, Roman’s been making good money at work lately, and I knew that God was going to take care of us no matter what. I honestly don’t think I prayed one time for God to provide money towards the braces (to my fault), although I have been praying about this upcoming furlough. Sometimes He just likes to take care of things, even when we don’t specifically ask Him to, just to show us He loves us and He’s got this thing under control.
Roman is also under his mom’s health/dental/vision insurance since he is under 25 years old. After sending in the information to the orthodontist just to see if they would pay for anything, we got back a shocking response: they would pay $2,000 towards the braces! $2,000!!!!!
This was a miracle that we truly were not looking for, but we are incredibly grateful. Our monthly payments will drop from the original $159 a month to only $88 a month. In the middle of an 11-week furlough, this is a really big deal for us!
God’s Word tells us to share His wonderful works with those around us, so I knew that this was something that had to be shared with all of you. Isn’t He wonderful? I love how He works on our behalf when we are completely unaware of it. I love how He surprises us with unexpected blessings that have such huge impacts on our daily lives. We serve a mighty God!
What has He done for you lately? Feel free to share in the comments!  :)

“Praise be to the Lord, for He showed me the wonders of His love when I was in a city under siege. In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from Your sight!’ Yet You heard my cry for mercy when I called to You for help. Love the Lord, all His faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to Him, but the proud He pays back in full. Be strong, and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”  ~Psalm 31:21-24

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

23 Things I Love About My Husband

Two days ago, we celebrated Roman’s 23rd birthday. Wahoo!! There were brownies, steaks, and a huge ice cream cake. (Note: I ate some of everything and it was glorious. Which means this week I get to work extra-hard at the gym!) So in honor of my awesome husband, I thought I would dedicate this post to him, with 23 Things I Love About My Husband:
1.       He has a servant’s heart, always willing to help others around him
2.      He loves Jesus and seeks after Him
3.      He is a hard worker in everything he does
4.      He is honest and loyal
5.      He is a faithful husband
6.      He is an amazing drummer—I love hearing him play!
7.      He looks after me and defends me when necessary
8.      He does not gossip about others or tear others down
9.      I may be a bit biased, but I’m married to one sexy man!!
10.   He’s great with kids
11.    He successfully grew a garden this year, saving us lots of money on veggies!
12.   He takes good care of himself and strives to make healthy choices
13.   He is an optimist….a great balance to my pessimist way of thinking
14.   He knows how to cook!
15.   He can make me laugh no matter how bad a day I’ve had
16.   He supports me in everything that I do
17.   He is extremely intelligent
18.   He mows the grass. (Yes and amen)
19.   He’s always willing to help me out around the house
20.  He loves me for me and says I’m beautiful
21.   He can fix my phone. And my laptop. And the TV. He’s a good fixer-upper-of-stuff
22.  He puts up with my OCD ways  ;)
23.  He’s my husband!
Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband. I’m so proud of you, Roman, and the man that you have become. I can’t wait to spend many more birthdays with you as we walk through life’s journey together. I love you!!!

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;"  ~Psalm 1:1

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Warning: My Dog Might Pee On You

I always take Duke running with me. For the most part, he is a good running partner and listens extremely well. So well, that I hardly ever put him on a leash. This way, he’s not forced to stay under my feet, and he can run in a zigzag pattern down the road without pulling my arm off.
When it’s just me and him though, he is really protective of me. We have to walk through the back of my neighbor’s yard to get to the little neighborhood next door. Recently, the neighbors just got a Chihuahua. A really yappy Chihuahua that thinks he’s some hot stuff. Duke does not appreciate this little thing yapping at me, so he does the best thing he can think of to tell the little guy to back off: he marks his spot on everything.
He learned this from a country dog that belonged to our good friends (may he rest in peace). Don’t worry Mater, your spirit lives on every time we cross through our neighbor’s yard.
Duke will always squat like a girl to pee, except when he decides it’s time to get territorial. Then he hikes his leg like a man.
Oh wait, except he never actually pees. He’ll just go around the yard hiking his leg over everything while staring at Mr. Tiny Yappy Dog. “Take that, mister. I just waved my leg over your flower. And your blade of grass. And your owner’s golf cart. And your bush. And your tree. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW, HUH? HUH??”
I feel so protected. NOT. Although I much prefer Duke pretending to be territorial than him actually being territorial. Because if he ate my neighbor’s dog, they probably wouldn’t appreciate it very much.

So to my neighbors: don’t worry. You’re flower garden is not going to die. Neither is your grass. Or your tree. Because my dog isn’t really peeing over all your stuff, he’s just pretending. Oh, and bring your dog inside. He’s annoying for such a tiny thing. Also, I don’t like Chihuahuas.  
“Better a bread crust shared in love than a slab of prime rib served in hate.” ~Proverbs 15:17

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons.....

Some things are simply out of our control.

I am a federal employee, which means starting next week I will be furloughed one day a week for eleven weeks. I will lose over $500 out of my monthly income. This is completely out of my control.
Roman and I are planning a day trip to the beach this Friday since both of us are off work. I just looked up the weather, however, and there is a 70% chance of rain. We will have to watch the weather over the next couple of days and make a decision to drive down there or stay at home. The weather is completely out of my control.
I’ve been battling a weak immune system and a couple other health issues. It has been a stressful and trying time, but I have made some progress. For the most part though, these issues are out of my control.

Encountering situations in life that are 100% uncontrollable can be a frustrating and stressful experience. We try to contain the situation. We worry about what’s going to happen next. We lose sleep over how we can make it through in the easiest way possible. Granted, sometimes planning is necessary, but a lot of times we stress ourselves out over something that we can’t change in the first place. I’m learning to live by a new motto:

Pray about the things you can’t control, and focus your attention on the things you can.

I can’t stop a national furlough of federal employees, but I can be smart with my money in order to make sure I have enough money to pay the bills.
I can’t stop it from raining on Friday, but I can choose to have a great day whether it’s at home or at the beach.
I can’t completely fix my health issues, but I can practice healthy living habits to make sure I’m in the best shape possible.

When you add prayer to this little recipe, you will learn to find peace in these uncontrollable situations:

Jesus, please provide for us as we go through this financial storm. Give us wisdom and self-control over our finances through this furlough, and then help us to better prepare for the days to come.
Jesus, we ask for a restful and fun day this Friday as we spend time together. Whether it’s at the beach or at home, help us to have a peaceful and safe day.
Jesus, heal my body. Make me stronger and help me to make the right choices so that I can treat with respect what You’ve given me.

What difficult situations are you facing today? Are you worrying over things that you can’t change? Let me encourage you to try something different: pray about the things you can’t change, and focus your attention on the things you can.
“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