The Year of Redemption

The night before Christmas Eve I was up really late. We were leaving for Camilla after our church’s Christmas Eve service that next morning and there was much to be accomplished. Between last-minute laundry and wrapping gifts and paying bills, I didn’t find myself turning out the lights until well after 1 a.m. As I walked past the playroom with our Christmas tree still lit up, I decided to pause and take a few moments to just sit and enjoy the last few hours of the Christmas season in my own home.

The house was finally still–all my striving complete for the night. I settled into a spot up against the wall and invited the Lord to meet me there. I took a break from social media starting in the fall of this year and I’ve sadly only posted three times this year on this little corner of the internet I call my own, but I’d like to take a moment as we celebrate the new year to open up and share some of my heart and the moments the Lord and I shared that late night in front of my Christmas tree.

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2017 has been a year that will go down in history for the Casterline family. We started off in our new little home that we closed on in November of 2016. I felt incredibly unsettled and unsure. A new neighborhood. A first-time home owner. Jackson was unsettled in our new place as well which only added to our daily frustrations. And it was in that rocky season that Roman lost his job. This sent us into an absolute tailspin as we desperately prayed for what we should do next.

Words cannot truly explain the internal anxiety and stress we both faced over the next several months as God began working out the next plan for our lives. Roman and I both felt as though we were being called into ministry. In the meantime he took a job he did not want so we would not lose our home. We spent nearly three months praying and fasting for clear direction from the Lord and He spoke to us during that time like never before. At the end of May, Roman quit his job to begin full-time fundraising as a U.S. missionary with Chi Alpha. {If you’d like more information about Chi Alpha and Roman’s role with this ministry, you can click here to go to Roman’s Chi Alpha page.}

As we settled into our new and strange routine of fundraising and preparing for a life of ministry, Roman’s mother had a sudden and serious medical emergency and we almost lost her. For the first two weeks of July she was in the hospital and we begged the Lord to heal her completely. All praise goes to the Lord because He answered that prayer and she has fully recovered.

August arrived and with that, Roman started his first semester with Chi Alpha serving on the Columbus State University campus. The first two months are quite busy as they minister to returning students and freshmen and try to make those connections before the students get sucked into secular college culture. All the while, he continued fundraising and I worked hard at my stay-at-home business to keep us floating financially.

Lots of travel. Bills. A teething toddler who has had a difficult time adjusting to sudden life changes. It’s no wonder I decided to drop off social media. My heart and mind needed as much rest as I could give it.

All of this I reviewed and discussed with the Lord that night in front of my Christmas tree. To be honest, I was emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted. It really started out as more complaining than a discussion. But then I asked Him to open my eyes and give me perspective, and He did just that.

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The day Roman lost his job and I cried out to the Lord, He spoke so clearly and said, “I can redeem even this.” He has. I never dreamed I would be introducing myself as a missionary’s wife. I never dreamed that we would be ministering to college students or disciplining freshmen or making a decision to leave the secular workplace to join full-time in Kingdom work. But we have. And it has been worth every ounce of the pain and hardship in getting here. We are already seeing amazing transformation in students’ lives and we are loving every second of missional living.

Roman’s mother? Yes, that was one of the scariest moments we’ve ever lived through. But the Lord carried us. He healed her body. He gave us peace during those two weeks that was indescribable yet almost tangible. He redeemed those two weeks we spent practically living at the hospital and He used it for His glory.

I have two separate friends that have each had two miscarriages this year. They both are ending 2017 with new life in their wombs and will meet their miracle babies in 2018. I have a close relative who has been far from the Lord for years. This year I saw him return to the Lord and I have watched God re-write and redeem the mistakes of his past.

I have known more financial hardships and I have seen the Lord provide in those hardships like never before.

I’ve seen character growth in my husband and in myself that only comes from walking through the valleys of life with the Lord.

I’ve seen God repeatedly show up in my friends’ lives and redeem hard situations this year. There are simply too many to list here.

Over and over and over, the Lord has redeemed situations that have felt impossible. And even that night in front of the Christmas tree as I sat down weary and somewhat sad, He redeemed that small moment by giving me His perspective. I went to sleep that night feeling peaceful and full and ready to celebrate the birth of my Savior with family and friends.

 

Dear ones, I know this has been a lengthy post. Perhaps I’ve shared too much or too little. Perhaps I haven’t been clear enough and you now have questions about something I’ve said. But if I could sit across from you and share all the events of my year in full detail and listen to all the events of your year as well, I would take your face in my hands and look in your eyes and say with full confidence, “whatever it is you’re facing right now, the Lord can redeem even this.”

Yes, even your failing marriage or your wayward child. Yes, even a death in the family or a job loss or a bankruptcy. Yes, even a health crisis or your crippling depression. He can and He will redeem all of it.

Believe me, you may not feel or see His redeeming work in the moment. There have been more times than I can count this year when I have literally shouted in my empty car “Where the heck are You, God?!? Did You forget me here???” I have prayed prayers like “I don’t even know if You are real anymore” and I have questioned literally every major life decision we have ever made and wondered if I even knew who I was anymore. Yet even when I couldn’t see it or feel it or touch it with my own hands, Jesus was redeeming everything. All of it. The anxiety. The finances. The job loss. The health crises.

 

I don’t know when or if I will ever get back on social media. I have quite enjoyed the silence and rest from it all. However I do hope in 2018 I can share more regularly here with all of you. I have missed this little space. But more than anything I pray that in my vulnerability and sharing in this post I can give someone a little hope as we ring in the new year. The Lord redeems, my friends. I think it’s His most favorite thing to do. He loves making things new. He loves to love us big. As you start this new year and reflect on the close of 2017, look for His redemption.

 

In my last post I wrote back in May, I called 2017 the year of the Free Fall. But now? Now 2017 is being labeled The Year of Redemption. It’s been a good year, folks. Happy New Year’s. I love you all!

 

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:18-19

7 Comments

  1. Rachel

    Loved this, love you, and love you’re heart. It’s been so encouraging to watch you navigate this new venture even if we aren’t super close. You and your family are an example of humility and endurance that all people should look up to. I know we do.

    -The Rays

  2. Rachel R

    Loved this, love you, and love you’re heart. It’s been so encouraging to watch you navigate this new venture even if we aren’t super close. You and your family are an example of humility and endurance that all people should look up to. I know we do.

    -The Rays

    • You are so sweet. We love you both so much and are so truly grateful for our friendship and all the support and prayers you have given us over this last year! ❤️❤️❤️

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