Happy Birthday DAD!

Today is my dad’s birthday! I am so thankful for my dad!

I’ve been thinking about the many things I have learned from my dad. As I started jotting them down, I realized that every single one that I immediately thought of is a Biblical principle.

Of course, this isn’t everything that my dad taught me, but these are the things that popped into my head.

  • Be in God’s Word daily – “Sin will keep you from God’s Word, or God’s Word will keep you from sin.” {Psalm 119:97}

  • Memorize Scripture {Psalm 1; 119}.
  • Work hard, knowing that you are accountable to God {Col. 3:23-24}.
  • Don’t be ashamed of Jesus Christ {Romans 1:16; Psalm 119:46}.
  • Never gossip or slander {James 3:8-10; Lev. 19:16; Prov. 16:28}.
  • Always honor your dad and mom {Eph. 6:2; Exodus 20:12}.
  • Don’t make fun of people {Mark 12:31}.
  • Ask for forgiveness. No matter how immediate or postponed {Col. 3:13}.
  • It’s better to be a fool in the things of the world and be wise in the things of God {Rom. 16:19}.

  • Pray about everything – the big things and the small things {1 Thess. 5:17}.
  • Never grow cold in your passion for Christ {Rev. 3:16}.
  • Believe God for big things {Matthew 8:8}.
  • Be quick to turn off the television or walk out of a movie if it dishonors Christ {Psalm 101:3, 119:60}.
  • Share your faith. All the time {Acts 4:20}.
  • Be wise with the money God has entrusted to you {Matthew 25:14-30}.
  • Don’t compromise your conscience, “It’s a slippery slope…” {1 Corinthians 10:23}.
  • Pray on the way to church {James 5:16}.
  • Know your spiritual gifts and use them {Matthew 25:14-30, 1 Peter 4:10}.
  • Tithe. “God always gives back…” {Malachi 3:10}.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you {Galatians 5:16}.
  • Know that no matter what happens, God is in control {Psalm 103:19}.
Thank you dad for all the things you have taught me, not just by teaching, but by example! Happy Birthday!
Love,
your only daughter

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. ~ Hebrews 13:7

A Wake Up

“GraceAnna, wake up!” Grant’s words seemed faint and far off. I opened my eyes for a moment to see him standing over me trying to wake me up. It was early. And in my mind, too early to be getting up.

AudreyKate was still asleep, which meant I should still be asleep.

A few minutes later I heard his voice again. “GraceAnna, I just put on a pot of coffee, get up!

This time I sat up in bed and watched Grant walk out of the bedroom. I quickly got dressed and came downstairs for a cup of coffee.


“I thought we could spend some time together in the Word on the beach before the day gets going.” Grant explained.

We had discussed this plan the night before. The plan had actually included getting up to watch the sunrise. The sun had already been up for an hour by the time Grant woke me up. We had both missed that.

I always want to get up early to spend time with my husband, but the getting up part is always difficult for me. Especially on mornings when AudreyKate has had a couple middle-of-the-night feedings.

I heard AudreyKate wake up while we sipped our coffee. We put her in the covered stroller, grabbed our Bibles and headed out to the beach.

It was mainly empty, except for a few early morning runners who were out. Like always, it was beautiful. The hues on the beach always seem to be more vibrant in the morning. We plopped down in the foldable chairs we brought with us and started reading.

My time in God’s Word was so refreshing. And I realized as I sat out there that I needed it so much more than I needed sleep.

I looked over at Grant. He was engrossed in a book called, “Heroes” by Iain Murray that I gave him for Father’s Day.

“Hey,” I said. “Thanks for waking me up.”

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Heb. 3:13



 

His Uniform

It’s dark outside, but I can see Grant’s shadow in our bedroom as he buttons his Marine Corps camouflage uniform. It’s 3am. He kisses me good-bye and I watch him walk out the door. Before I drift back to sleep, I think about how much I don’t like his uniform.

————–

Gross! I say to myself as I pull Grant’s camouflage out of the dirty hamper and transfer it as quickly as possible to the washer. I think about the fact that he has probably run more miles wearing this uniform in two days than I’ll probably run all week.

————–

The dryer beeps. I haven’t seen Grant in three days. I pull one of his camouflage uniforms out of the dryer and hold it close. I feel the cool metal of his Lt bars on my cheek and remember the time when I watched him walk away from me in this uniform. We had only been married a few months when he left on a deployment. I will never forget the moment when we had to say good-bye. I waved through my blur of tears until I couldn’t see him any longer. I think about how happy I am that tonight he is coming home.

————–

I hear the car door slam. I look out the kitchen window and see Grant’s huge smile under his camouflage cover as he walks up to the back door. I love camouflage. 

————-

I search high and low for Grant’s bald eagle and globe pin that goes on his dress blues. I cannot believe I lost it. I finally check at the cleaners and I find it in the parking lot. It’s smashed and cracked and now I’ll have to get a new one fast. I let out a frustrated sigh.

————–

It won’t be long before my husband won’t be wearing his uniform anymore. I won’t have to watch him walk out the door in the middle of the night. I won’t be washing his forest green and desert storm camis anymore. I won’t have to say good-bye through tears and watch him leave for months at a time.
But that uniform that I have come to often disdain, I will miss.

I’ll miss it because my heart won’t be able to skip a beat when I see a mess of camouflage walk in the back door.

And when the Colors play,  I won’t get to see him standing tall in his dress blues.

But one thing for sure, uniform or not, he will always be standing tall.

Man of Honor

I can still remember that morning pretty clearly.

I was riding with my dad in our family’s old green station wagon. It was just the two of us and we had just finished a daddy/daughter breakfast date at McDonald’s. I had ordered the sausage biscuit and my dad ordered the hotcakes like always.

I was five or six years old.

On our way to the church office after breakfast we sang songs like, “Old MacDonald” and “This is the Day” together. I loved to sing.

After singing, I remember my dad explaining to me why Jesus died on the cross. He told me that Jesus died because I was a sinner and my sin deserved to be punished.

He told me that Jesus took my “spanking” by dying for me.

It wasn’t the first time that my dad had told me about Jesus. From as early as I can remember my parents were talking to me about God.

All I knew was that I wanted to know Jesus. I wanted Him to be my friend. My dad told me that Jesus wanted to be my friend too and that’s why He came to earth and died.

All I had to do was believe in Jesus.

I did.

I don’t know why that particular memory of us driving to the church office is seared in my mind.  Maybe it’s because we ate at McDonald’s, maybe it’s because we were singing, but I think it’s probably because God was working in my heart through the words of my dad.

Driving with my dad to the church office was something that my brothers and I did a lot since we were the pastor’s kids.

I never resented being a pastor’s kid. I embraced it.

But it wasn’t always easy. Sometimes it was really hard.

I remember one day getting really upset because someone said something mean about my dad. I was hurt and I wanted to defend him.

I went to my dad and told them what they had said and I fully expected him to get upset, but he didn’t.

He didn’t even say anything mean about the person who said it. Instead he said something nice.

I was so surprised. “Dad, how can you keep on going when people say stuff like that?” I asked. I knew that if someone said something like that about me, I would just quit.

I’ll never forget my dad’s answer. He said, “GraceAnna, if I were in ministry simply to please people, I would have quit a long time ago. I’m in ministry to please God.”

His response shifted my perspective off of others and onto Christ.

I let my frustration go, and instead looked to Christ.

The word “honor” is not a word that I use very often. But when I think of my dad, I think of this word.

To honor someone is to go beyond respect and to bend over backwards to show respect for other people.

My dad showed me what the word honor meant that day. And he showed it to me so many more times, and he still shows me what it means today.

I’m thankful for my dad on this father’s day for so many things. But when I think of what I’m thankful for most, it’s that He has always pointed me to Christ.

And he has sought to live His life so that others would see Christ.

Thank you dad for introducing me to my perfect Heavenly Father.

I love you. Happy Father’s Day.

Hymns for a Kid’s Heart

My mom used to rock my brothers and me to sleep every night singing hymns. My Grandma did too. I have lots of verses of hymns memorized that I sing to AudreyKate every night. I wish I knew more.

A couple years ago I picked up a book called, “Hymns for a Kid’s Heart” from my church bookstore in N.C. I thought I would save it for my kids one day.

However, I pulled it out yesterday because my nephews spent the night. We used it for our morning devotions. Yesterday we learned about Martin Luther and the hymn he wrote, “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” Today we read about Reginald Heber and the hymn he wrote, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” My nephew Luke loved saying “Reginald, Reginald…” over and over again.

Each hymn and story about the author is also accompanied by a Bible verse. Each “lesson” is packed with theological truths that can lead from conversation to conversation. Just this morning we talked about seraphim, what the word “holy” means and how important it is to thank God for everything.

And there is an awesome CD that accompanies the book, so we were able to listen to the hymns sung by children.

I found out there are more books in the series. I know I’ll be purchasing them for future little Castleberries.

The Face of God

I was cleaning out the trunk of my car this morning and I found this sermon on a CD. Grant’s mom sent it to me when Grant and I were dating. Grant gave this sermon in the summer of 2004, when he was just barely 20 years old!
I listened to it this morning and smiled because I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time I heard it. I am so thankful to be married to a man who tells me so often that he just loves God’s Word so much. I am praying for God to raise up more young men who desire to be pastors and teachers of His Word. And if we are ever blessed with sons, I pray that they would have a heart and love for God’s Word.

I especially love his armadillo story 🙂

A Double Rainbow

I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking about what our life will be like in just a few weeks with our baby girl. I was thinking about how I’ll be waking up every few hours to take care of her.
It suddenly occurred to me that I needed a rocking chair for our bedroom. I already found a glider for the nursery upstairs, but since I’m planning on keeping our little girl in our bedroom for a while, I will need something to rock her in downstairs.
I realized I must have woken Grant up when I saw him sit up and check the clock.

Grant, I think we need a rocker for our room,” I whispered.
He mumbled something about how he could bring the glider from the nursery upstairs down into our bedroom.
Oh, okay, good idea.” I hadn’t thought of that.
We both went back to sleep.
Later that morning I was talking on the phone with my mom as she was downtown running errands. I told her about my rocking chair idea and Grant’s suggestion to move the glider downstairs for a while.
You know,” she said, “You ought to check Craigslist and see if there is anything on there that would work for your bedroom, that way you have a chair upstairs and downstairs.
I got off the phone and typed in “rocking chair” into the local Craigslist search engine.
A beautiful and comfortable looking antique rocker popped up. It was located in downtown Beaufort and was super affordable. I called my mom and she offered to stop by and take a look at it since she was downtown anyway.
A few minutes later I got a call back from her, “GraceAnna, it’s gorgeous and so comfortable. You will absolutely love it and it goes with your house so well. The pictures online didn’t do it justice.”

Before I knew it, my mom had brought the rocker over to the house and we put it in the bedroom.
I sat in it and marveled. I couldn’t believe that just a few hours after thinking about needing a rocker, I had a beautiful one exactly where I had desired to have one.
I sat and marveled because God is just so good sometimes. I marveled because He provides the little things. I marveled because He heard me whisper in the dark last night.
As I rocked, I thought about God’s abundant blessings in my life. I thought about a whole list of prayers that He’s answered above and beyond what I asked or hoped.

I thought specifically about my wedding day.
The weather on the day that Grant and I got married was beautiful.
But, there was a short time at our reception, where the sky clouded over and it rained. It wasn’t a hard rain, but it was enough of a rain where guests crowded under the branches of the live oaks and under the white tents to keep from getting wet.

Rain is never what any bride wants. I had prayed so hard for no rain.
But just as soon as the rain started, it stopped. I then noticed that guests were staring out at the marsh.
I looked out over the water, and to my delight and amazement, there was the most beautiful rainbow.
Grant and I walked down on the dock to look at it.
I held my brand new husband’s hand. I had prayed for him. I had waited for him. I had kept myself pure for him. And God had brought me him.
GOD, God had brought me this man. And now, I felt like God was showing His presence at our wedding.
I thought the day couldn’t get any better. But then, as I gazed at the rainbow, I saw something else. Another faint rainbow. And I realized that it was a double rainbow. I’d never seen a double rainbow in my entire life.

Our God is an amazing God.
So, as I sat and rocked this afternoon in my new (old) rocker. I thanked God. I thanked Him for providing good things.
I thanked Him for not just providing rainbows, but double ones.

“O LORD, you are my God;

I will exalt you; I will praise your name,

for you have done wonderful things,

plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” – Is. 25:1


Great Expectations

Expectations can be a very dangerous thing. Expectations, are at times, necessary and good; but if they are unrealistic or placed incorrectly on others, they can become huge stumbling blocks in our lives.
We all have expectations. We have expectations for ourselves, for our husbands, for our family, our friends, and even from God. We judge people based on these expectations; and if they are not met, we are often hurt, upset, and disappointed at the person who failed to meet them.
Most of the time, we never stop to consider whether our expectations were actually realistic or right to begin with.
So why am I writing about expectations right before Christmas? Well, because I really want to spend time with Grant. I have had expectations about things I want to do with him and times I want to spend with him around Christmas.
I expected that we’d get to have fires in the fireplace, go for walks in our neighborhood, and go to church together. I expected that we would somehow be able to eat dinner together. And yet, with his insanely busy schedule, these expectations that I have, cannot be met.
At the end of a day, sometimes I feel sad that we can’t do these things together. But the thing is, I should know better. I know that my expectations for these things at this stage in our lives are unrealistic. And yet, I still have them. I know that Grant is in the United States Marine Corps serving our country and that his particular job right now is extremely strenuous. This is the season we are in our lives right now. It’s just the way it is. And it won’t be like this forever.
But here’s the sad thing about expectations. We often allow them to get in the way of what God is doing in our lives. We dwell on our unmet expectations instead of asking God to show us what He wants us to learn from the experience or situation that is turning out differently than we imagined.
I’m not the first person to have unmet expectations. Over 2,000 years ago there were a lot of people who had expectations about the coming Messiah. They expected Him to be an impressive and inspiring leader who would set the Jews free from Roman rule and bring political freedom. They expected the Messiah to be a triumphant and majestic king fit for royalty.
But Jesus wasn’t what they expected. He wasn’t what they expected at all. Just read the book of John (my favorite Gospel to read in December). Jesus came from a poor family and was born in a stable. He was humble and not much to look upon.
It was the greatest reversal of all time. The King of the Universe being welcomed into the world by shepherds and animals.
And on top of all that, Jesus’ message during his adult ministry was hard.

{Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” – John 6:41-42}
{. . .As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. – vs. 66}

He just didn’t meet their expectations, and so they missed Him all together. They missed God Incarnate. Their “great” expectations caused them to miss what was truly great.
Those who truly saw Jesus, listened and believed in Him, not in their own ideas of Him. They had to lay aside all of their own expectations, and embrace Him for all that He was and is.
I don’t know what your expectations are this Christmas, or who you may have put them on; but I encourage you to not to get so wrapped up over certain things that you miss the ways in which God is trying to show Himself to you.
Don’t miss Him this Christmas. I don’t want to. He wants to reveal Himself to you in greater ways than you could ever expect.

Sunrises and Sunsets

I really love this time of year. I love the change from summer to fall. Really, I just love it. I always have.

Grant and I were in Yuma last year, and there was no fall, so I feel like I am enjoying it anew this year.

I went for a run this morning. I didn’t want to get out of bed to go, but after a long debate with the alarm clock, I got up and got out. As I stepped out on the screen porch, I was immediately greeted by the cool, fall air, and I was so glad I got up.
It was still kind of dreary as I ran down our street; but when I turned the corner, I saw the sun rising over the water. The sun lit up everything, and I immediately felt warmer. And then, in the marsh grass, I saw a deer walking towards me.
I stopped running and stood still to watch her. Her hide matched the marsh grass perfectly and I was surprised that I had spotted her. She continued to walk in my direction through the mud and reeds.
I stared at her, the marsh, and the sun, trying to take in the beauty of the morning.
Suddenly, I saw her look up, stop still, and stare at me. I was caught.
I heard runners coming up behind me and I knew it was time to get going.
As I reached the dock in our neighborhood and starting stretching, I began to think about Grant’s lesson from this past week in Sunday School.
Grant talked about how our knowledge of certain subjects is able to grow based on how well we diligently study.
For example, you can learn as much or as little about Algebra based on how well you apply yourself (and your mental capacity, I suppose). Yes, it may be complicated, but the extent on how well you know Algebra is based on your own study of it, and nothing else.
But with God, it’s much different. We are only able to know God by what He has chosen to reveal to us about Himself. As we open and read Scripture, God shows us who He is. Through His Word, He opens up His heart to us, and as we apply our minds to what He has revealed, our knowledge of Him grows deeper.
One of the ways God has revealed Himself to us is through creation. And because God has given us His Word, we are able to interpret and understand the world He created.

Grant talked about how sunrises and sunsets display God’s glory and His character. If I am seeing God behind every sunrise and sunset, my joy in these things is only going to increase over time. I am not finding my satisfaction in the sunrise alone, the sunrise is only the means to enjoying God.
As my understanding and love of God grows, so should my joy in sunrises and sunsets.
I thought about this on my run because as a little girl I always loved this time of year.
But too often, important things that we love as children get overlooked as we become adults. They just aren’t as interesting to us anymore.
But this shouldn’t be true for Christians. Each year our love for God should grow, and so should our enjoyment of the world He created.
We should love the change in the weather, the sunrises, and the sunsets, because our love for the God who made them has grown since the year before.
So, as I made my way back home, I thanked God for being the Creator of the morning, the sunrise, the marsh grass, and my deer friend.
And I hope that on my next run, I’ll enjoy it even more.
Psalm 65:8-13
Praise is due to you, O God . . .
those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with
showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills
gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.