Monday, June 2, 2014

We've Moved.......

Life with the Casterlines has moved to a new website. Please join us over at the new site by clicking HERE. See you there!!!   :)   :)   :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Guess Whose Birthday It Is???

In the middle of all this moving and unpacking business, I completely forgot….Life with the Casterlines turned two years old this month!

It seems like this a trend though, because I also forgot the blog’s birthdaylast year.

Yea, good thing blogs don’t have feelings. Maybe I’ll do better when it turns three years old?  

 I can’t believe it’s been two years since I wrote this post on May 2nd. My first two sentences on the first ever post? “Well this is the first of hopefully many blog posts. I can't help but admit that I feel a little bit like a dumb-dumb for even having a blog.”

Ha! Hilarious.

Two years and twenty-six days later and the blog is still growing in readership numbers. So perhaps I wasn’t such a dumb-dumb after all!

Things have definitely changed in our lives over the past two years though….. 
-We graduated college.
-We moved into a nice big house in our hometown.
-We launched a second blog, Faith, Marriage & Family.
-We walked through a depressing time of infertility.
-We watched as God pieced together a new vision for our family.
-We packed up and moved to Columbus with a promise of a new job for Roman.
-We saw this promise fulfilled….Roman starts his new job next week!

 
It has definitely been a roller-coaster of a ride, but I am so glad we have shared it with you guys. Y’all have been so sweet to us over the last two years. I can’t count how many comments on this blog or on Facebook we have received that show your support and prayers for us. I have treasured your sweet words of encouragement and appreciation for what has been written here. And I’m so glad that God has used this blog to work in some of your lives as well!

I’m really excited about all that God has done and all that God will do through our little slice of the Internet. We are working on some special ideas to spread our reach with this blog, so stay tuned!

Really though, I can’t thank all of you enough for your support over these last two years. There was a time where I really considered not writing at all, but your encouragement got me through that period and motivated me to keep going. Life with the Casterlines wouldn’t be what it is today without our readers!  So eat yourself a birthday cupcake and we can celebrate together  ;)

Seriously though, cupcakes are awesome. Go eat one.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls downs, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Thursday, May 22, 2014

An Uphill Battle

The air was a little bit chilly last Sunday morning as I stepped out of my front door, running shoes on and hair pulled into a messy ponytail. I did a couple of jumping jacks and then started off down my street….or I should say up my street since my house is at the bottom of a hill. I did my two-mile jog in the early morning before church, before my brain could finish waking up and realize what I was doing. The neighborhood was still quiet and the sky still overcast as I labored along with my slow steps and struggling breaths.

I wanted to quit.

I’m not used to being out of shape. I’m not used to running up and down steep hills. I hate that burning feeling in my legs as I force them to keep moving. I hate that heaviness in my chest as my lungs push for more oxygen.

I wanted to quit, but I didn’t.

I ran exactly 2.02 miles that day in exactly eighteen minutes and fourteen seconds. Terrible time compared to my previous high school running records, but I ran the whole thing and I didn’t stop and I didn’t die.

 

I can’t help but compare my life to my run last weekend.

Right now I feel like I’m just pushing to get up the hill. Everything is hard. Our finances are hard. Finding a new church is hard. Living in a big city where you don’t really know anyone is hard. Finding a store you can buy cat food from is hard. Learning a new job is hard. Being away from our family and friends that we hold so dear is hard.

This week, I’ve wanted to quit. My heart ached all day yesterday as I thought about all I had lost. Eating lunch with my parents every Thursday. My big house with the pretty pond outside.  Leading worship at the best church in. the. world. Hanging out with our friends. Knowing how to get to where I need to go without looking it up on GPS. My work buddies and our silly conversations. Knowing how to do my job and knowing that I was good at it. Walking into Wal-Mart and seeing familiar faces every day. I never actually cried, but I could feel the weight of it all and my body is just so tired.

I know it’s too soon. We’ve only lived here for just over a month. It will take longer than that for us to start feeling settled…..for this strange new place to feel like home. What is it? Six months, they say before you feel settled? Yesterday, six months felt like a long way away…..just like two miles felt like a long way to run on Sunday.

Today, God has given me strength and peace in the midst of this uphill journey. It has been an anointed day, and it isn’t even lunch time yet. And oh, how thankful I am for His patience and care for me! He really is a good God, you know?

First, I ran across this Scripture in one of my e-mail devotions I receive:
“Lift up your tired hands, then, and strengthen your trembling knees! Keep walking on straight paths… Guard against turning back from the grace of God….” Hebrews 12:12-13, 15 (TEV)


Then I came across this blog post which talks about making Jesus your top priority:
“It was there, in His redemptive grace and His increasing glory, that I realized my greatest plea is that Jesus, above any writing project or to-do list or work task, wouldn’t be my afterthought.” –Katy, When Jesus is my Afterthought


Finally, I saw this post on my Twitter feed which talks about moving and why we have to trust God:
“I knew that God saw the big picture and had a plan. He knew the people that I needed to be near to help and those who needed to be close to me to help me. He hadn’t chosen these assignments with a random selection program. He had thought about it and strategically placed us each time.” –Katie, Seating Chart
 

Your lungs may be heavy and your legs burning from trying to get up that hill. You may want to quit and just go back to where you came from…..to what is familiar and comfortable. But the refining of our souls does not result from comfortable places. Our hearts are put in shape by our Father, who leads us through these hard training sessions with love and patience. He’s not doing it out of cruelty, He’s doing it because He loves us and He has something better for us at the finish line.

So keep pushing through. Keep forcing those feet forward. Dig deep into the Word and find comfort in His promises. Keep holding onto your Daddy and asking Him for strength and comfort. He’s running the race, right there with us.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~Hebrews 12:1-3

Monday, May 19, 2014

Who is this Jesus, Really?

Last week I wrote a post directed to the Church. When I posted the link on Facebook, I made a promise to those who don’t follow Christ to write a follow-up post this week centered on who Jesus really is.

I think much of the problem today (specifically in America) is we have created this false Jesus in our minds. He’s hip and cool and loves to make everyone happy and give them things. Trouble is, he’s not the real deal. This false Jesus is what we cling to in order to make ourselves feel better. “He says not to judge!” we yell as we point to a cardboard cutout of a man with long-hair and pretty brown eyes holding up a peace sign with a rainbow in the background.

No, the real Jesus is many things, but one thing He is not is apathetic towards sin. After all, He suffered the worst torture that ever has been and ever will be to free us from sin. So why would He be okay with us living in it? Short answer: He wouldn’t. He isn’t. He won’t ever be.

I’m going to try and keep this simple and to the point, but I can’t make any promises. After all, the pursuit of Christ is a lifelong journey and I think I’m just a few steps in to discovering the greatness of who He is.

Before you check out on me, I want to make one thing clear: Jesus does love you.

You who has grown up in a broken home and walked a lonely path of depression. You who loves the taste and smell of alcohol a bit too much. You who has struggled for years with drug addiction. You who has stolen. You who has lied. He loves you. Dearly. His heart aches for you to turn to Him and allow Him to tear down the walls of sin that have taken residence in your soul. He wants to set you free!

I think this is where the disconnect occurs. We love to hear that Jesus loves us! We long to be accepted by someone and loved for who we are. Jesus loves us for who we are, but He does not love what we do when we are still in bondage to sin. We can dance and sing for joy at the fact that Jesus loves us, but if we never turn from our sin and strive to live in His holiness, then the day will come when our bodies will die and we will spend an eternity in hell. We must be purchased by His blood in order for our souls to be redeemed. And let me be perfectly clear: being purchased by His blood will actually cost us something.

Christians love to throw out the phrase: “Accept the free gift of salvation! Just say this prayer…..” We do you an injustice when we say that and nothing else. Because although the price has already been paid for our salvation, saying the prayer and living it out your salvation will mean that you have to make sacrifices. I can’t say what those sacrifices will look like for you specifically, because I do not know you. I can only say this: following Christ means that we lay down whatever standards and morals we think we should follow, and pick up the standards and morals that He has laid out in His Word. In short: we can’t be okay with sin anymore.

Sin is not of God. It cannot be in His presence in heaven. He is pure and holy, and sin is everything He is not. This is why we must be saved in order to enter in His presence. Are we going to be perfect? Nope. We are still human, and we will likely mess up very often. But we can strive to be perfect and holy as He is holy. We should strive to be perfect and holy as He is holy. The beautiful thing is, when we mess up, He is quick to forgive us if we confess that sin to Him. He picks us up, brushes our knees off, and we keep on walking with Him. Our hearts are covered with His blood, and our sins are forgiven. But we have to actually make a conscious effort to not live in sin.

We can’t look at the forbidden fruit, and think to ourselves “it’s okay, He’ll forgive me” and then take a bite. And then continue to take bite after bite while saying to ourselves, “Jesus loves me! No one can judge me for my behavior!” We have to consistently keep our guard up and be in constant communion with our Savior so that our feet do not stray from His path.

And let me be honest: it can be really hard. It will be difficult to fight against what our flesh wants. It will be difficult to choose His way over our own. We will engage in a constant battle against what we want to do and what we should do as long as we are breathing, but through Him we can prevail over sin.  

How do we know what sin is? After all, it’s pretty hard to strive for holiness when we don’t know what holiness actually is. That is why God’s Word is so important to us. His Word contains everything we need to walk with Him. He also sent His Holy Spirit to us to lead us and guide us. The Holy Spirit is our constant comforter and friend. He is quick to convict us when our hearts go astray, we just have to know His voice and be listening for it.

Please understand, this post is not me trying to parade how awesome I am or how much I know about God. Truthfully, I feel like this post is pretty sucky and that I am doing a terrible job explaining this to you. At the end of the day though, I want you to have an understanding of who Jesus is and what following Him means…..not because I want to heap condemnation on your head, but because I want you to find Him and experience His freedom. At the very least, I want you to understand that the Jesus who gets paraded around on social media as being lax about sin isn’t the real thing. Chasing after our sinful desires will only leave us feeling empty and useless, but chasing after God’s heart will bring us more fulfillment and joy than you can ever imagine.

So if you ever see me post something on Facebook that goes against your current behavior or thought pattern, please know that I’m not being hateful towards you. I desperately want you to see the light of Christ….so that you can turn from your sin and be saved from it.

Jesus loves you for who you are, but if you are living in sin you are still lost and on your way to hell. I know it’s harsh, and it may not feel like it’s fair, but it’s the truth. He’s calling out to your heart…..will you listen?  

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ~Romans 3:23

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” ~Romans 6:1-4

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

Friday, May 16, 2014

Manifesto

There is a poison in the church today.

It has been there for a long time, but its growth has exploded within the last decade.

It is a pretty poison…..one that looks beautiful and smells wonderful. It beckons you to come and taste and then it lulls you into a deep sleep. It slowly strips away your senses in your slumber so that when you awaken, you are now dead to truth. You are changed, but you won’t even realize it.

These poisoned believers look fine on the surface: they go to church, they profess to believe in Christ, they might even wear some Christian t-shirts out in public. It is when they open their mouths to speak that you can smell the sweet poison on their breath. Pay close attention, but don’t get drawn in with this pretty poison that feels so right.

This poison can be deadly to your soul. If it goes unchecked, it will grow and grow until it chokes out any raw, untouched Christianity that is left in your heart. But the good news is you can be redeemed. Christ can overcome any poison distributed by the enemy, you just have to listen to Truth and allow that Truth to set you free. Allow me to sprinkle a little Truth on your soul today. I pray that you are still awake enough to see through the fog and recognize God’s call to repentance.

Let’s start with the first indicators that you’ve drunk the poison. These are statements that I see the most online:
  • No one can tell me how to live my life.
  • You have no right to tell me ______________.
  • You can’t speak out against sin because Jesus said to love everyone and don’t judge. Only He can judge.   

On the surface, it sounds and feels wonderful. I can live my life the way I want to and no one can tell me when I’m doing wrong. God is the only judge of my soul and so as long as I feel like He is happy with me, then no one can tell me differently. How wonderful! This means I can now do whatever I feel like doing as long as I feel like me and God are “cool.” After all, He loves me just the way I am so I have nothing to worry about. What does it matter what you think?

Mmmmm. How dangerous. Do you notice my emphasis on the word “feel?” Has anyone ever told you that your heart will lie to you? That you shouldn’t just trust your feelings?

This poison loves to use your feelings against you. It will trick you into believing that your relationship with God feels like it is in great shape and that God is “blessing” you with all of the things that are going right in your life. And surprisingly, a lot of things are going right in your life! You have a great boyfriend and the two of you are buying a house together. You just graduated college and landed an awesome job. Praise God for all of His blessings on your life! And when bad things do happen, you just hold onto that promise that God won’t ever give you anything you can’t handle and tell that devil to get out of your life. After all, you know that God has more blessings of prosperity coming your way, so if you can just persevere a little bit longer your blessing will be right around the corner.

I know, I know, this post is not going to make me any friends. But every time I get online and see this web of lies choking my friends’ hearts, the burden to write this post continues to grow. Please tell me, you can see the web of lies, right?

The truth is, if you are living a life of sin, God isn’t blessing you. He’s not okay with you going to church on Sunday and talking about how great He is, while you are living with your boyfriend. He’s not nonchalant about your regular routine of drunkenness. He’s not overlooking your constant use of profanity and brushing it off. So why are things going good in your life? Because you drank the poison and believed the lie. Remember? The poison looks and smells wonderful. Therefore, your life will look and smell wonderful too.

The truth is, some of those bad things that happen in your life might be God trying to shake you awake. He wants you to wake up and realize your dependence on Him. He wants to slap that cup of poison from your lips and replace it with the cup of His truth. He wants to chase away that cloud of demons that swirl around your mind so He can speak clear words deep into your soul. The truth is, He often uses His people as His mouthpiece….but He is a gentleman, so He is not going to make you listen.  

Next time someone points out sin in your life, how about you try listening rather than sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “don’t tell me how to live my life!” Next time someone brings up a socially controversial topic, don’t just drive over them while screaming “you can’t judge!”

Just stay calm and listen. Listen and think. Think and then compare their words with Scripture. And not just one verse out of the Bible that seems to prove your point and not theirs. Really dig in and research it. Evaluate it. Chew on it. Pray over it. Ask God to give you discernment over it. But whatever you do, don’t allow your feelings to be the deciding factor. Remember, feelings lie. And if you decide, through prayer and thorough study of Scripture, that you are in fact right and they are wrong, present your case with truths from God’s Word in a respectful manner.

There is a poison in the church today…..but we are not powerless. We have the only tool that can be used to defeat poison: the truth of God’s Word.

Church, there is a scary movement happening. If you don’t see it, then you are either a part of it or your head is in the sand. This whole idea that we shouldn’t be calling out sin in our society….this idea that we have no right to correct one another when we stray into the wilderness of sin. This idea that God love us, so as long as we feel like He is happy with us, then we are free to do what we want. This idea that hell is only temporary and one day the people there will be saved as well. This idea that most people won’t even go to hell because they are “good people.” This idea that God is cool with homosexuality because Jesus didn’t ever specifically say “don’t be gay.” This idea that we should just be quiet and not judge because we have no right to. This idea that we can profess whatever religion we want because Allah and Buddha are the same as Christ.

It is all rubbish. All of it. Every bit. Lies. If you aren’t sure, then you aren’t reading your Bible…..or you’re only reading the parts that make you feel good. We cannot ignore the God of the Old Testament. We cannot ignore the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. We cannot ignore the fact that the entire early church was severely persecuted for following Christ, and that our belief in Christ will cost us something too. We have to dig deep into the power of God’s Word and start putting on our armor. We have sat still for far too long, and in our rest we have grown lazy towards His truth.

I know, it would be a lot easier if we just followed the movement. If we just kept our thoughts to ourselves and let people do what they want. If we never spoke out in the name of justice. The arguments of the poison are much more comfortable than the boldness of His truth. I know, because I've been tempted by the same poison as you. But we cannot stand on the fence with sin. Either we pick up our cross and follow Him, or continue to sit on the sidewalk and draw pretty pictures with our chalk.

The time is coming soon when we will have to choose.

The truth is, He died so He could set us free from this poison. But if we aren’t willing to stand up against the enemy and fight for what is right, if we aren’t willing to turn from sin and follow Christ, then all of this was in vein:
 

Wake up from you poison-induced sleep, Church. We have work to do.


“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. Though they say, ‘As the Lord lives’ yet they swear falsely. O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent. Then I said, ‘These are only the poor; they have no sense; for they do not know the way of the Lord, the justice of their God. I will go to the great and will speak to them, for they know the way of the Lord, the justice of their God.’ But they all alike had broken the yoke; they had burst the bonds.” ~Jeremiah 5: 1-5

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ~Revelation 3: 15-22

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” ~Matthew 10:34

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:9-13

Thursday, May 15, 2014

And Now You Know the Rest of the Story..... (Part Two)

Tuesday, we left off with our story in the month of March. (If you missed it, you might want to catch up so you’re not lost. You can click here to go to the post.)

March was the hardest month for me. I’ve said it before only a few times, but infertility wrecked my faith. I really didn’t know how to trust God anymore. I knew that I should trust Him. I knew deep down that He was faithful, but the constant disappointment from infertility I was so familiar with the last eighteen months had all but destroyed me. When I got a job offer before Roman did, I was afraid to make a move. In an instance, all of the confidence and peace I had felt about our move had vanished and I was left with all of the tiny questions that had suddenly become mountains in my mind.

What about Roman’s job? Where would we move? Can we afford to move? What about my friends? What about Roman’s job? What about our church? What about Roman’s job?

I hesitantly called the human resource specialist back the next afternoon with my answer: I would take the job, but I couldn’t start until the end of April. I told her that my husband and I would have to move and we would need the time to find a place to live and get to Columbus. Truthfully, I was just trying to push my start date out as far as possible to give Roman’s job offer more time. For the next five weeks, we would wait in intense anticipation.

We went house hunting one last time at the beginning of April. We tried to be as transparent as we could with the landlords we met. We carefully explained that I had a job offer and that he was in the final stages of a job offer. Once he had a job offer we would need to move right away. We selected a house and the landlord told us he would hold it for one week. We fully expected God to “wrap things up” and for Roman to get a job offer that week. We were not comfortable with signing a lease for a house without his job offer.

That week, Roman’s dad had a God-orchestrated encounter with someone who knew the status of Roman’s job. According to this individual, Roman had been selected and they were just waiting on a few things to clear up before he got a job offer. We were greatly encouraged, and I finally decided to officially announce to my boss that we were leaving. Our week went by with no job offer. Not wanting to lose the house, we told the landlord that we would meet with him the next weekend and sign the lease and deliver the security deposit. Surely God would work everything out by then! And oh yea, I had two weeks before I was supposed to start my new job. We started packing our house up out of pure faith.

At first, we were adamant about not signing a lease without a job offer. How in the world could we hand over the entire contents of our savings account and hold ourselves legally liable on a rental contract with no job offer for Roman? There was no way we could afford the higher rent without him having a job! But eventually, we decided that this was just going to have to be a leap of faith. It took all of my energy to stand on what I felt God had been saying all along: move to Columbus. I was so used to disappointments and being angry and doubtful towards God. It was almost as though I could feel those flames of refinement in my heart.  

So that next weekend, we took a deep breath and jumped off the cliff. We signed the lease and handed over a cashier’s check that had emptied our savings account. My job threw me a going away party. Roman put in his notice at his job. We rented a U-Haul, and we moved that week.

The almost month since then has been an emotional and spiritual roller coaster. We took our leap of faith and moved to Columbus. I started my new job, and it has been great. We’ve gone through the month of May with only my paycheck, the going-away gift from our church, and the reimbursed security deposit from our last rental. I’ve spent the last month looking at our budget and looking at our accounts and then looking at God. “We can’t go on like this for another month.” Roman started looking at part-time job announcements in the area, but said none of them felt right. We had been telling every new person we met that he was in the “final stages of a job offer” and would be starting soon, but the truth was that we really weren’t sure. Maybe God wanted us in Columbus, but didn’t want Roman in that job? We tried our best to just trust Him and not doubt…..but it was hard. Really, really hard.

But finally, oh happy day, Roman got his job offer this past Thursday! It took everything in me to not scream when he called me at work to tell me the news. I don’t think I could ever describe to you the feeling of relief I had as soon as he called. To finally have our faith made sight in this part of our journey is an incredible experience.

Truth is, the past six months has been a crazy adventure, but now that this part of the story has ended I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Because the last six months has restored a part of me that I thought infertility had stolen forever: my faith in God. I can recall the times I heard God’s voice, and I can look back over the puzzle and see how He was faithful and true to His word. I can see how shallow my doubts were in light of His promises. And I can now look to the future and say with confidence that I will trust the Lord to guide my steps in the way they should go.

This part of our adventure has ended, but the next part is just beginning. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” ~Psalm 40:2

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

And Now You Know the Rest of the Story..... (Part One)

Almost a month ago, we announced our move to Columbus. I promised you in this post the full story, but I had to wait until we actually knew the full story before I could tell it. As of last Thursday, the final piece of the puzzle finally fell into place, so I can finally tell you guys how this move of ours came about. Yippee!

Right before Thanksgiving 2013, Roman found a job announcement online for a forensic scientist job. (I won’t go into any further details on what the job is, just because I’m slightly leery about posting it for the world to see. So we’ll just say it’s a forensic scientist job, cool? Cool.) For those of you who don’t know, Roman majored in forensic science in college but had so far been unable to find a job in his field. So about three months after graduating college, he took a full-time job selling phones through a Verizon wireless retailer.

Trying to get a job in the forensic science community proved a lot more difficult than what we had expected. Going into marriage, we had a plan: graduate from college, Roman gets a job in his career field, I quit my job and be a stay-at-home mom, we live in Camilla and stay on the ministry team at our church, and everyone lives happily ever after. We graduated college in May of 2012, but nothing else from our plan was falling into place. We just weren’t getting anywhere with the few forensic science jobs that became available in the Camilla area.

So when Roman found the forensic scientist job this past November, we asked ourselves a scary question: What if God doesn’t want us to stay in Camilla? What if He wants us to move somewhere else? We decided that was a possibility but would never know unless he applied, so Roman submitted his application and we started praying really hard.

It was very strange, because the longer we prayed about it, the more at peace we felt about it. By the time Christmas rolled around, we were almost positive that God wanted us to move…which was really odd because Roman hadn’t even heard anything back yet! We even drove up there one Saturday and checked out the area where he would be working and some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Sure enough, Roman got a phone call in January to set up an interview. We were ridiculously excited! This was the closest we had ever come in his career pursuit! I took the day off and we drove up to Columbus the night before. His interview went very well and as soon as I picked him up I blurted out, “We’re moving to Columbus!!” We spent the afternoon looking at houses and I immediately started applying for federal government jobs in the area. Within a few days, a job came up and I felt God telling me to apply.

February came with lots of great news: Roman had made it into the next stage of the hiring process. It was him and two other individuals, and he was now required to do the extensive background investigation and a polygraph. In addition, I was selected for an interview for the job that I had applied for the month before. I was nervous, but I felt God telling me that the job was already mine, so there was a lot of peace at the same time.

Up until February we were feeling nothing but excitement and confidence. As we explained to some of our family and friends: if this couple who always said they were never leaving Camilla are at peace with moving to Columbus, then that peace is only coming from God. We were really excited about the future and what God was doing. In the back of our minds, all the questions about the tiny details were still there…but they were small in comparison. Our feelings were mixed with nervousness, peace and excitement, but mostly peace and excitement. March changed all of that……

In early March, I got a tentative job offer. At first I was beyond excited, but reality quickly set in. Roman had not heard anything yet about his job. What do we do? I strongly felt like this was God saying that we were meant to move to Columbus even though Roman hadn’t heard anything yet, but I really did not want to be wrong and accept a job offer that I wasn’t supposed to take. I stalled as long as possible on my paperwork that I had to fill out before a firm job offer could be made. Then I stalled as long as possible on getting my background investigation and fingerprinting complete. But even after all that stalling, I got a phone call immediately after my fingerprints were taken with a firm job offer. I told the human resource specialist that I would need to talk to my husband and I’d call her back in the morning. Roman immediately called the human resource specialist and asked for a status on his job….they had none to offer him.

Our time of intense anxiety had begun.
 

Come back Thursday to hear the rest of the story!

“‘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

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday Stories: Mean, Green, Soccer-Playing Machine

Today we are participating in The Mom Creative's Throwback Thursday Stories! Every Thursday she posts a throwback picture and tells the story behind it, and then has a link-up at the bottom of the post for others to share their stories too! If you enjoy today's post and would like to see more, feel free to click over to her post and check out more stories by clicking here. If you are a new reader from The Mom Creative, welcome! Feel free to click around, we are glad you're here.   :)


My older brother was an awesome soccer player. He wound up getting a scholarship because of his athletic ability, so naturally, when I was a little girl my parents enrolled me in the local recreation department's soccer program. My nephew and little brother were both enrolled in the same team as me, so we had tons of fun doing soccer-things together.....like daring each other to eat grass and throwing dirt at each other (the grass tasted weird, if you were wondering.)



I am relatively certain that for the first two seasons I did nothing but dance in circles, pick flowers and sing throughout every practice and game. I seem to remember my Dad lovingly shouting across the field: "Sarah, put down the flower and kick the ball." I am almost positive that I did not listen to him. Because flowers.

Due to my amazing soccer/dancing abilities, my parents also enrolled me in ballet.....where I pretended to crawl on the floor like a lion anytime they played a Lion King song. *ahem*

Eventually I did get serious about playing soccer though. Maybe a little too serious.



 
I want you all to know that my mom has both of these pictures on her fridge. It never fails, anytime we have a large gathering at her house someone has to bring up my face in this picture.
 
Listen guys, the photographer told me to look like a mean, green, soccer-playing machine. So I was a good little girl and did exactly what he told me. I'm good at following orders!  ;)  That phrase also caught on really well too, so I repeated probably a million times that I was a mean, green, soccer-playing machine over the rest of the season.
 
But in all seriousness, my childhood soccer teams hold some of my best memories. It was so awesome to play on a team with both my nephew and my little brother. My Dad and older brother even volunteered as coaches one year, which was awesome. As I grew up and continued playing I discovered my love of running, which led me to my extensive running career throughout middle school and high school. So Dad, I suppose all the money you paid so I could dance and pick flowers on the soccer field was worth it!  ;)
 
And for the record, I still consider myself a mean, green, soccer-playing machine. I just don't wear the pigtails anymore.  :)  
 
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” ~1 Peter 2:2-3
 

http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?u=947141&b=213520&m=25848&afftrack=&urllink=www%2Edayspring%2Ecom%2Fseasonal%2Fmother%5Fs%5Fday%2F%3Fref%3DHEROmothersday2014
 
*affiliate link

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

DaySpring Specials

I wasn't planning on writing a post today, but I have a quick update that I would like to share with all of you. (Check over at Faith, Marriage & Family tomorrow for a new Wifey Wednesday post!)

As of today, I was approved to be an affiliate for DaySpring! I have always loved this company and the products they sell. I seriously can't look at their store with my wallet close by because they have so. much. cute. stuff. So I am really excited that I was approved to partner with them.

Periodically, I will do a short blog post letting you know what specials DaySpring is currently running. I will also have my affiliate links on the left side bar (if you are reading this on a mobile device, you may have to scroll down to the bottom and click "view full site" in order to see the side bar.) Feel free to click on any of the links or images in this post or the images in the left side bar to browse DaySpring's products. Just to make it clear, I will receive a small commission on any product that you might purchase when you click on one of the links on this blog.

So without further ado, here is your first DaySpring Specials post!

Right now, the Redeemed Collection of DaySpring has this really cute decorative lantern on sale. It's on sale for $12, regularly priced at $29.99.


Also, all Wedding & Anniversary Cards are currently 30% off--no coupon needed!

 


The Lyrics for Life Collection is one of my absolute favorite collections that DaySpring has to offer. They take popular lyrics from hymns and worship songs and place them on all sorts of stuff....mugs, gift bags, cards, and wall art. Right now, for every two items purchased you get one item free! I mean, just look at how cute this stuff is:




This is just a quick highlight of what they have to offer. If you would like to browse other collections, just click here or click on the image below to go to DaySpring's main page.

 
 
 
Happy Tuesday everyone! 
 

"Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us." ~Luke 1:78

Monday, May 5, 2014

Weekend Adventures

We had a really great time over the weekend. This weekend was our first weekend that we stayed at home since moving to Columbus, so we took the opportunity to get out and explore some. But not before we went back to Albany on Friday night to see my little brother graduate:
Graduation ceremony for Albany Technical Institute
Me and my little brother
The proud graduate!
I can't tell you guys how proud I am of him for completing the Advanced EMT program! He is so good at what he does, and I know God is going to use him to save countless lives throughout his career! Congratulations Stephen!!!!!


 
Going to Albany and back in one day was a little tiring, so we slept in on Saturday. But we finally pulled ourselves out of bed and decided to do some exploring this weekend! First, we went down to the Chattahoochee River and walked a portion of the riverwalk. For those of you who don't know, there is a fairly new whitewater rafting company in Columbus that has the longest urban whitewater rafting course in the nation! It was pretty cool to see some of the rafters come down the river. And there was a really cool spot along the riverwalk where you could go out on the rocks in the river or walk along the sandy "beach." Get ready for picture overload......
 
 



  

 
We didn't spend a whole lot of time at the river, but we had a ton of fun! I can't wait to go back and do a picnic on the beach. And even though I always said I was too scared to ever try it, I'm kind of wanting to do the whitewater rafting course now!

After we ate dinner, we went to a concert in Columbus. The band Moore opened, and then we saw Tim Timmons, Group 1 Crew, and Big Daddy Weave. It was an AMAZING show and I could feel God's presence in the room. We actually wound up buying Tim Timmons' new CD. I didn't realize how great of a musician/performer he was. So far I've been listening to his CD on repeat....love it!

 
Yesterday we decided to visit Evangel Temple for Sunday morning service. TIt was really good, but they had a guest speaker so we did not really get to hear the Pastor preach. We did attend their young adults ministry service last night and got to meet some cool people, so that was great.
 
So yea, a very fun-filled weekend for us! It was a nice start to our new life here in Columbus and it re-energized us for what God has planned for us here.
 
I hope you guys had a great weekend as well! Try not to be too sad about it being Monday, we've made it through half the work day already!!    ;)   

 
“Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of His might, and because He is strong in power not one is missing.” ~Isaiah 40:26

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith Is No Longer Enough

I’m pretty excited to share this post with all of my readers this morning!

Today is May 1st. Today is also the day that Rhinestone Jesus releases to retailers worldwide.
Kristen Welch is the author behind one of my favorite blogs: We are THAT Family. In 2010, Kristen and her family founded The Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya that provides aid to pregnant girls living in extreme poverty. The Mercy House operates off of the charity of “simple” people like us, yet God has continued to grow this home exponentially. They are getting ready to move into a second home that will allow them to bring in even more helpless Kenyan girls.  As of last year, The Mercy House is home to 11 mothers and 11 babies. Rhinestone Jesus is Kristen’s story of how she said “yes” to God, which led to the founding of this life-changing ministry…..

“In high school, Kristen Welch wore a big, sparkly rhinestone ‘Jesus’ pin to school every day and carried her Bible wherever she went. (Yes, she was that girl.) But she didn’t realize her faith, though sincere, was shallow; much like her artificial accessory, it would one day tarnish, no longer a true fit for who she was. As real life catapulted Kristen into places and situations she’d never imagined, there came a day when she stood shocked in the slums of Africa and realized in one desperate moment that Jesus wasn’t enough for her. At least . . . she wasn’t living like He was. On the brink of a risk bigger than any she’d ever taken, Kristen knew she didn’t stand a chance—unless she was willing to put aside the rhinestones and get branded by the real thing. Rhinestone Jesus is the story of one woman’s journey from comfortably living a safe, ‘good-girl’ faith that didn’t cost much, to realizing that God was daring her to say yes to a bolder, more authentic, more dangerous way. This story of spiritual adventure throws the doors wide open for any woman who’s ever thought of herself as ‘just a mom.’ Kristen will inspire and empower you to say yes to God right where you are—and stand amazed at how your life will shine.”



I pre-ordered Rhinestone Jesus a few weeks ago and received my copy in the mail last weekend. So far I am LOVING this book, which is why I wanted to tell all of you about it. It is so easy for us to fall into the mindset that what we do doesn’t really matter to God, but Kristen gently reminds us through the telling of her story that all of our “yesses” to God truly do matter! Each of us can make a huge impact in this world for Jesus Christ if we are simply willing to say “yes” when He calls us! If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it on Amazon here.
Note: this is not an affiliate link….I just really love this book and wanted to tell all of you about it!
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” ~Micah 6:8

Monday, April 28, 2014

Symballo

Last week we finally officially announced our move to a new city on Life with the Casterlines. So far the moving process has been relatively easy. Am I going to miss some folks at work? Yup. Am I going to miss my nice, big country house? Yup. Am I going to miss seeing my family whenever I want? Yup. But even though there are things I’m going to miss, all of the good that I know God is going to bring about from this move has helped me outweigh the sadness. I’ve been pretty proud of myself because I’ve been able to hold all of the emotions together and not have a crying-fit.  ;)

Until yesterday.

Yesterday was our last Sunday as worship leaders at our church. Ever since Roman and I felt like God was calling us away, we’ve tried to prep ourselves emotionally for leaving our home church. I think we failed miserably at that. I didn’t even make it through the worship set before I started crying. Looking over at the worship team that we have led for around three years…..all of them friends so close that I consider them my family (plus my father-in-law who actually is my family)....gosh, I just couldn’t take it. Our praise team has such a special connection. We operate so well within the moving of the Holy Spirit. We can follow each other and feel where the music needs to go. It’s hard to put it into words, but I can say that this connection and togetherness is not very common among praise teams. I am going to miss being a part of such a wonderful group of vocalists and musicians SO much. And so I cried….through like, the entire third song.

I started looking over our sweet congregation…and then I really lost it.

Y’all. If you don’t know my church family, you should get to know them. You won’t find a sweeter, more caring group of people who want to know Jesus more than anything. Their worship is pure, genuine and fearless. Their love is strong and unwavering. I have had the privilege of *attempting* to lead them in worship for around three years, but to tell you the truth, they don’t need my help. To be able to see them worshipping Jesus every week is a true blessing, one that I am dearly going to miss.

Roman and I truly had no idea that our church family was going to bless us like they did yesterday. So basically, once the worship was over and I started crying again because I realized our last set list together was officially over, I pretty much didn’t stop crying until we started eating lunch. The slideshow was beautiful and represented so many special memories of our journey at First Assembly. The words spoken by some of our dearest friends and family truly touched our hearts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Roman cry in our entire relationship, so for him to break down like he did during the service yesterday truly shows how much it meant for him. The financial blessing was God’s way of providing for a great need in our lives right now, and we can’t be more thankful. It was an all-around beautiful service and we were emotional wrecks for like, the entire rest of the day.

My devotion last night was perfect for yesterday. The passage was out of Luke 2, and the focus was on verse 19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” The original translation for the word “pondered” in this passage of Scripture is “symballo” and it means “to bring together.” Mary took the events leading up to Jesus’ birth and the immediate events with the shepherds afterwards and “brought them together” in her mind. She pieced together all of the wondrous works of God and treasured them, because she knew she was holding the Messiah in her arms. The devotion ended with a challenge: spend some time reviewing over the last several years in your life. What major events has God brought you through that have shaped you into who you are today? “Ponder” them for a moment. And so last night, as I read my devotion and got ready for bed, I did just that.

When I review the last six years of my life, I can see the hand of God all over. I see a broken girl graduating from high school with more questions than she can count and a hardened heart towards God. I see this girl going back to First Assembly with all of her questions, insecurities, and doubts. I see a loving church family who took her in and dedicated the time and energy to shape her into who she is today. I see the best pastor and pastor’s wife in the world patiently mold her into a leader. I see friends that will last a lifetime entering into her life. I see her getting married and a church body that has supported and counselled this new marriage into what God wants it to be. I see her getting baptized in the Holy Spirit. I see the boldness and courage of the Holy Spirit rise up in her as she steps into leadership. I see a group of people who stood beside her, encouraged her, and prayed for her every step of the way.   

Symballo.

Stepping down as worship leaders and making that final “break” yesterday was truly the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. I cried on and off for the rest of the day….and this morning….and I’ll probably cry tomorrow too….and probably the day after that. So much of my life and who I am today rests on the beautiful congregation we left behind yesterday and their willingness to follow Christ. There truly are not enough words that I can write on this blog that could ever convey my gratitude for this body of believers.

So to the dear people of First Assembly: We love you more than we can express. Thank you so much for being who you are…for being who God called you to be. Continue worshipping our Lord and Savior and seeking after His heart. Don’t stop running this race! Keep your eyes focused on Christ and the work He has called you to. We can’t wait to hear about all that God does through you, and we can’t wait to share everything He does through us as well. Know that this certainly is not goodbye; after all, we are only two hours away! ;)  Thank you SO much for such a sweet service yesterday, it meant a lot to both of us (even though I cried too much.)

And to anyone else reading this who is not a member of First Assembly: seriously, you should get to know those folks. If this post hasn’t convinced you, then I don’t know what will!

I’ll close with Romans 12 because it accurately represents everything that my First Assembly family is, and everything we are called to be as a body of believers in Christ:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


 

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Something new has happened here......

So….yea, we moved last week. As in, packed up the entire house, picked up a U-Haul, and moved two hours away to another state. Side note: we have waaaaay too much junk.

This time last week, we were finishing up the U-Haul and standing around in the living room with this crazy-tired look on our faces. “WHY do we have to unbox all of thiiiiiiisss????” Today, most of the boxes are totally unpacked and the house is mostly organized. Yippee!!

I can’t wait to tell you guys the full story about God calling us to move and all the ups and downs that have happened along the way, but this chapter of our story actually isn’t finished yet. As of today, we still can’t see the full picture, we still don’t know all of the tiny details, and we still are just trusting in God and His faithfulness to get us through this point in our lives.

Packing up and moving to a brand new city has definitely been scary. My nephew and his wife live here, but other than them, we don’t know anyone. I had to start a new job this week, which was very scary. This Sunday will be our last Sunday as the Worship Leaders at church, and starting next week we will be on the hunt for a new church (which quite frankly is the scariest part to me….) We had to leave our pretty house out in the country and trade it for a much smaller house in a subdivision. *gulp*

On the flip side, moving to a brand new city has been really exciting. We get the opportunity to meet new people, and the city we are living in now has a *lot* more things to do. My new job has been great so far, and I feel like it’s going to be so much better than my previous job. As scary as finding a new church is, it’s still exciting to think about new ministries we may get involved in. And even though the new house is in a subdivision and it’s smaller than the old house, the house itself is really pretty and the neighborhood is really nice and quiet. Duke and I have already taken a jog through the main streets and those hills kicked. my. butt.  

But the best part is how much closer we are in our walks with Christ now that we’ve started down this new path. We’ve had to place our trust in Him like never before, and it has grown our faith exponentially. I’m learning so much about God’s character and His love for me, and I feel like I’m closer than I’ve ever been in my relationship with Him.

Like I said earlier, I can’t wait to see the rest of these details come together so that I can share it with you guys. For now, I wanted to give you the big news and to ask you for your prayers. As many of you already know from your own  life experiences, when you take a big leap of faith and head in a new direction that God is calling you to, the enemy likes to do everything he can to thwart you. The mental/emotional/spiritual battle through all of this has been exhausting. The enemy has tried so hard to lead me down a path of anxiety and fear, and I’ve had to repeatedly bring my thoughts captive to Jesus and allow Him to fill me with peace. It has been all I can do some days to just stay standing….to not “check out” on Him and give up on His promises for me. I believe I’m through the worst of this battle, and that God is bringing everything to victory in the very near future, but the prayers of my spiritual brothers and sisters certainly have great worth in the heavenly realms. So to everyone that has been praying for us so far: thank you! Your prayers have made a great difference. And for those you are just now hearing our big news, we definitely would appreciate your prayers as well!

And now I’ll close with a street view of our new house…..
 

“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” ~Psalm 34:1-10