Friday, August 27, 2010

A New Thing

I wanted to give an update on what's been going on with my job situation.

God works all things out for the good, time and time again.

I've began a side venture, focusing more on my writing. It's tugging at me again, that need to create, to say something. So I've decided to give the next year to putting 100% into making a living at writing. I'm learning to do freelance magazine writing, and continue to work on my novels. And I'm chronicling my journey along the way.

On the sidebar is a picture of my laptop and a link to my new site, Jackie Castle's Story. You'll see a lighter side of me as I talk about this new crazy venture I find myself on.

In the meantime, I told you last week that I was going to be able to substitute. Well, I'm official now, with a badge and a long-term job. So the next couple of months will be interesting. I'm praising God that he's made a way that I can pay my bills while I work toward my writing goal.

I hope you'll stop by my writing site and see what I'm up to.
I'm still here, though, sitting under my quiet tree, listening to Holy Whispers teach. I can't do anything without Him and His guidance. It all starts at the foot of the tree.


Wanted to share this video while you're here. I love this song. And I'm glad that no matter what's going on, I have a closest friend until the bitter end. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wonderment Wednesday: 1 John 3

My dear children,

Let's not just talk about love, let's practice real love.

This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality.

It's also the way to shut down debilitating, self-criticism, even when there is something to it.
For God is greater
than our worried hearts
and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God!
1 John 3:18-21 MSG

Friday, August 20, 2010

My God is such an Awesome God!

OK, I just have to brag on God's kindness and Mercy and for being patient with his whiny children.

Tuesday morning, I was writing in my journal, talking about figuring out bills and thinking about writing the magazine ideas I had. My planned subbing job that I'd been counting on to supplement my income had fell through. I was jobless and after this last check wasn't sure how I'd get my bills paid. Even if I did begin publishing, it would take awhile to receive the money.

Yet, I've determined I will trust God in all this. That He does have good plans to prosper and not bring harm. I believe it, but when I'm sitting in front of my checkbook... well, you know.

I'd actually written these words:
"More than anything, I want to be in your will and I'm just uncertain right now. And I'm scared. And I hate that I'm not helping to support my family right now when Bob is working so hard."

Perhaps it was the sheer honesty of my words that changed things, I don't know.
But as I went about my day, I began to feel compelled to go up to the sub office and ask to be put on the list.

Let's get something straight, Jackie doesn't like like going anywhere and asking for anything. I get nervous and tongue tied and ... well, it's just embarrassing. But the thought wouldn't' go away.

About noon, I began to have his conversation with myself. Or maybe it was with God. Either way, this is what I heard:
"You belly-ache over not having a job. But when given a possible solution, you whine that you don't want to do that. For Pete's sake!"

Yes, I often say for Pete's sake to myself. I don't know why.

That did it. I decided, fine, I was going. I would just get my purse, drive up to the office and walk right in. I would just do it. I had nothing (seriously) to lose.

The whole time, that inner voice was saying, "Good, just go. Great, see ya. YOU HAVEN'T LEFT YET!!?"

So I went up there, told the man my story about how I'd been an aide last year and quit so I could sub and now I couldn't sub because there was so many people..."

When he heard I was a former employee, he took me into his office, looked up my application and said he would fit me in.


I'm going to get to sub after all. All the worry-ful weight I'd been carrying slid off my back and dissipated like mist. Honest. I felt lighter. I would have a means of supporting myself while I wrote. My bills could still be paid. Praise God.

That's all I could do on the way home. Praise Him.

Praise Him and get to writing, which I've done. With a renewed sense of vigor and enthusiasm.

And that, my friends, is how truly Awesome the God I serve is.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wonderment Wednesday

Blessed is the man who trust in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a TREE planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;
it's leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

Heal me O Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 & 14

A repost from the archives because some things bear repeating.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Being Yes-able

I sat across from my daughter during a heated discussion thinking, “I would love to be able to tell you ‘Yes’, but you’re not being very yes-able right now.”

And I wondered as she sat there, arms cross defensively across chest, brows puckered in consternation and lip protruding in petulance how often God sits across from us thinking the same thing.

There have been times when I felt like I was banging my head against a stone wall with God. Nothing I prayed for happened. Doors kept slamming in my face. And I’d sit with angry tears wondering why things couldn’t just go my way for once.

Maybe, it’s simply because I’m not being very Yes-able, either.

What does being Yes-able mean?

First off, being Yes-able means my face is toward God and I’m really listening.

Often I’ve watched my kids while I’m lecturing them about something and their glazed-over eyes are focused on the floor, their shoe or on a dangling string hanging from their shirt hem. And I’m left wondering if they’re even listening.

When we look at our circumstances instead of God, we do the same thing. I want to be like Samuel when the Lord first revealed himself to the boy and Eli realized who was calling Samuel’s name.

So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening ‘.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening. 1Samuel 3:9-10

When He speaks, I need to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Second, being Yes-able means you’re also Work-able.
Be willing to accept correction and willing to change what needs to be changed. Nobody likes discipline.

Hebrews 12: 5 says, "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Hard times condition us, and draw us closer to God. Don’t let them shake your faith. When I’m faced with a disappointment or frustration, I remembered Joseph in prison. God had promised he would rule, and instead he finds himself in a dungeon? But Joseph needed that prison time to learn the things God needed him to learn in order to be a great leader.

Third, to be Yes-able means you are Will-able.

Yes, I know that’s not a real word, but we have to bend our will to God’s so we can walk in harmony with Him. Obedience. He said he wants it more than sacrifice.

But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

When God asks for hard things, are we willing to obey? Sometimes I find myself making excuses, just like my kids do when I ask hard things of them. Yet as a parent, I never ask my kids for anything I know in my heart they aren't able to accomplish. God is the same way. And if it’s too hard, He will direct our steps. That’s the kind of God we serve.

God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. He has good planned, not evil.
So when I hit up against a stone wall, I have begun to examine myself and ask,
“Am I being yes-able?”

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's My Birthday... Again.

Just like one season after the next, these birthdays just keep rolling around. And now, here's another one and I'm wondering who do I write to unsubscribe?

Think I'd be happy to stay at the year I'm at. It's been all right. Not one of my best, but not one of my worst, either.

Actually, a friend posted this on my facebook wall:

HaPpY bIrThDaY

And I thought, Gosh, that looks like a roller coaster, which is kind of what this year has been like.
So that seemed appropriate.

And I'm thinking that Man's best laid plans really must be a joke to God. I mean, I had a plan. I knew where I was going and what I was going to do this year and that darned roller coaster took a sharp turn I didn't see coming.

I remember a scene from the movie Parenthood with Steve Martin where the grandma is talking about how some people like the merry-go-round. (I had my hand up saying, "Oh, me, me!) While some love the dips and turns of the roller coaster. She, on the other hand, had found the roller coaster more exciting.

I beg to differ. I've never been a roller coaster fan. Never. I even hated the kiddy ones when I was young.

Yet... I guess, in the long run, the dips and turns are what makes life interesting.

Well, here's to another InTeReStInG year!

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do,
everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.
(Prov. 3:5&6 MSG)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Seasons Pass

Here is a glorious truth I once heard a pastor friend say: “It doesn’t matter how bad things get now, for those of us who are on our way to heaven, this is the worst it’s going to get.”

I got into my car the other day and noticed that the temperature read well over a hundred degrees.

And I thought about how just a few short months ago, Texas looked like winter wonderland.
For those of you sweltering under the heat, these next pictures might cause you to let out a yearning sigh.
For those who see this for the better portion of the year, I don’t want to know what you’re thinking right now.
It might be rude.

Feeling a little cooler now?

A Realization
During one of my morning walks- which has to be started nearly at the crack of dawn or I’ll pass out from heat exhaustion- I noticed the oaks were covered with little nubs of pale green acorns.

I smiled, knowing soon those leaves would turn gold, red and brown, those acorns would begin to ripen and the squirrels will go crazy-mad over them. They’ll be throwing late night BYON parties. (Bring Your Own Nuts- for those who don’t understand the ways of squirrels like I do.)
It’s a happy time with cooler temperatures and pumpkins and sweaters. Despite the many nights I have to stick my head out the window and yell, “Keep it down you squirrely little nutcases, you’re making too much noise with your partying!”

Praise God that this world and all that’s in it is ruled by seasons, by the rising and falling of the sun, by change day in and day out. Nothing stays the same. Nothing. How many times have you saw someone after many years and thought, “Whoa! Look at you…”
We change. Seasons change. Circumstances change. Problems go from bad to worse, and more often than not, to nothing at all.
Once I was in a troubling predicament and remember staring out the window at the leaves dancing around on a wind stream and asking God to show me what I was to do about that situation. A friend saw me standing there and wrapped her arms around me, resting her chin on my shoulder. Then she said the most profound words that I so needed for that moment. “Just as these leaves will fall, and this season will turn into winter, this too will pass into something else. You only need to hang in there a while longer. You can do it.”
Whatever’s happening right now, whatever season we find ourselves in, this too shall pass.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

I can rejoice in this truth: That as long as I’ve asked Jesus to live in my heart, and I’m trip-skipping along the Kingdom road, then whatever I face now is the worst it’s going to get. I’m on my way home. Where I’ll spend eternity with God. Where there’s a big, for-real Jesus hug waiting for me.

In the meantime, He’s got me by the hand, walking through the high places, and the muck. Getting me through each season and on to the next.

Hang in there friends, fall and winter shall pass as well, and then spring is just around the corner.

Blessing to You!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Take-Away Value: The Twilight Series

OK, I admit it, I'm a huge Twilight fan.
And I'm kind of tired of getting flack for that, without people bothering to ask me WHY I'm such a fan.

This isn't my regular manner of post, but I've been thinking of doing something different on Fridays anyway. So, since this is my blog and my place to state my thoughts, I'm going to explain what I see in these teen-crazed books that might help you see things in a different light... or Twilight, or by a New Moon, or ...

Well, let's get on with this.

I got into Meyer's series because of my teenage daughter. She wanted to read them, and I'd heard mixed reviews about the stories. And knowing, at the age of 16, if she wanted to read something, she would find a way. So I bought a copy as well.

Twilight literally grabbed me by the shirt front and dragged me through the story of an unlikely couple and it didn't let me go until the very last page. Dazed and confused, I picked up the next one and was even more hooked as Edward- the vampire boyfriend- leaves Bella- the human main character and a bit of a twit. (if you ask me.) I honestly couldn't put them down until the end. As the books got longer, that became bothersome.

What really got me, wasn't the intense action - there was none at first. Nor the intriguing literary style - her stories are very easy reads. But the story beneath this twisted love story.

The Take-Away Value:
The first thing that intrigued me was the vampire family themselves. There's a scene in the first book when Bella comes to meet the vamp family. I thought it was funny how they're making her a dinner and the underlying tension is everyone is hoping she doesn't become the main dish.

Sorry, let me get back on track.

Edward begins to explain how none of them chose this life. Carlisle, the "father figure" of the clan, was actually a pastor's son. When he became a vampire, Carlisle fought against what he'd become. In the book Twilight, Edward explains how Carlisle found he could satisfy his hunger by feeding on animals and realized, "He could exist without being a demon. He found himself again." (pg. 337 Twilight)

As the others were turned, they too didn't wish to be demons. Hating the life they now found themselves born into, they found another way to exist without harming humans, without causing damage. Though, their choice came at a sacrifice on their part. It was a sacrifice they found they could live with.

I've pondered over this story for some time. Being a teacher in a title 1 school, I've come across many children from low socio-economic homes, plagued with drugs, gangs and little hope of making much of themselves. Working with these kids is a big challenge because they have little drive to learn academics when their main concern is what they will eat when they get home, if they have a home when they get out of school and what chaos will they face when they walk in the door.

Yet I see them, some even as young as fourth graders, carrying around these books. When I get a chance, I like to sit down and say, "Hey, you know what I really like about that story?" First, they are usually impressed that I've even read it, and second that I actually like them. But it opens a door for discussion about rising out of whatever bad circumstances we find ourselves in and making choices to do the right thing.

Stephenie Meyer has created a story world where Choice is what makes or breaks you. Where sacrifice and selfishness are in constant battle with each other, and isn't that true in real life?

Edwards view on the sanctity of marriage is often at odds with Bella's more modern view of young romance. There's a scene in Eclipse where they are arguing over the issue of marriage. Bella is dead (excuse the pun) set against it. But Edward, being from another place and time, remembers the value of it when he says, "I was that boy, who would have -- as soon as I discovered that you were what I was looking for -- gotten down on one knee and endeavored to secure your hand. I would have wanted you for eternity, even when the word didn't have quite the same connotations." (pg. 277 Eclipse)

I liked how he desired Bella, but even more, desired to have something real, despite the unreality of their situation, something lasting and committed. When I talk to young girls about relationships, I want to point out that Edward had it right. It's more than just sex, more than just "being together" its deeper than that. It's a commitment. A commitment that last for one's eternity.

Opening Doors to Discussion:

Most importantly, I'm glad that I took the time to read these books because of the opportunity it's created to discuss some deep issues with my daughter s. Like how Bella is a bit too worshipful of Edward, and too careless about her soul. Not every part of the books speak good, as I said earlier, I find Bella to be somewhat of a twit. However, it's created some great debate about her and other characters and what they stand for.

Maybe, as parents and educators, we need to not slam to door to things we haven't read ourselves. I encourage parents to monitor what their children read, but understand, if they are older, it's nearly impossible to keep them from reading what they want. I could have avoided the book, but I would have missed out on a chance to connect with my teenager and other young kids as well.

So that, in a nutshell, my friends is why I'm a Twilight fan.

Be blessed and if you feel the need to respond, please do. I only ask that you keep your words kind and not condemning.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wonderment Wednesday - John 15

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." John 15:5-7

May we cling to Him with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our spirits and with everything else we have within us...


Be blessed,

photos are from Charis Canyon retreat, walkway up to the main house.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Feeling Stepped On?

A friend sent this picture in an email and the caption read, "How to tell if you're Mom's favorite."

As I looked at it, I wondered, was the fed bird actually the favorite? Perhaps the other sibling was a glutton and snagged all the worms and she needed to hold him down? Perhaps she had stepped on this one's head the last time to feed the other bird. Perhaps this really was her favorite and the other one was destined to always be last.

The possibilities are endless... especially in a writer's mind.

Thing is...
Things aren't always what they seem.

I'm thinking of the times I've felt in last place, looking around at others who have more, do more, are given more and win more. Much as I hate to admit it, I've cried, "But God, look at them. They have two and I have none. What's up with that?"

I'm not proud, but there it is.

Awhile ago, I remember reading in the Bible of when Jesus commissioned Peter to feed his sheep. (John 22) Peter looks back behind them and says, "But what about him?" And he indicated John, who considered himself to be the one Jesus loved. Maybe John was one of Jesus' favorites. He stuck with Jesus all the way to the cross while the others fled. Either way, John knew where he stood with his master and Peter seemed to not be so sure, especially after Jesus asked him three times if he really loved him.

I love Jesus' answer which was basically, "What I chose to do with him isn't important to you. What's important is that you follow what I say for you to do." (My paraphrase- go read it yourself to see if you think I've interrupted it right.)

Jesus had big plans for Peter. He was the rock the God would establish his church upon. Peter had a bumpy road ahead and he needed to just focus on what God had called him to do and not worry about what others were going to do. This is the point, I think, Jesus was trying to make to him, and us.

We are who we are. God is no respecter of persons. The sooner I can learn to keep my eyes focused on Him and not my circumstances, and definitely not other's circumstances, the more my steps become firm. For he promises to guard our steps and to walk with us always. (Ps. 91)

We were created with a heavenly plan and purpose in mind. Each of us unique with our own quacks... uh, I mean quirks. For good or bad, we are who we are.

Since He doesn't make mistakes, then what are we so concerned about?


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