Saturday, October 24, 2015

Update on Christina's Injury (A God Story)

I have left our readers dangling -- a bit like the light bulbs in the photo in my last post. I deeply apologize to those of you who are loyal followers and supporters of our unusual family. And now I'm going to add injury to insult by not even posting a photo of Christina.

Let me just make a promise to post a photo of Tina very soon. However, in a way this photo is almost more fitting. God's glory was on display late this afternoon as I wandered outside to take a few photos of the tail end of a beautiful autumn. God's great grace was also on display in how He healed Christina. Her surgeon prepared us for a rough ride of continued swelling of her internal organs before any healing would begin. And, that was if no complications occurred that would require surgery.

However, God had His own way with Tina's healing. There was no additional swelling. There were no complications. Tina's hospitalization did last five days; it took that long for her to be able to digest food again. She was admitted to the hospital on Thursday night and released the following Tuesday evening. Before she came home, we made a trip to the grocery store to stock up on special foods for her to eat during the long healing process to digestive system. However, Christina came home completely well. Completely healed. Despite the horse's well-aimed kick, she was ready to eat every day food. She was also ready even that night to resume her normal activities. We were nothing short of shocked! How could she be We made her take it easy for a day or two, unable to believe what we were witnessing. However, by Friday of that week Tina had convinced us of God's great grace having made the impossible possible. She was so healthy that she joined her brothers and sisters as they wove they're way through a corn maze that covered 17 acres.

We know that God can always heal, but that He doesn't always choose to do so, or to do so as quickly as we would like. In this case, we're very grateful for the mercy He showed our family in healing her so thoroughly and so quickly.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Light in Our Current Darkness

As we're living through hard right now, God's word has become that much more the light which guides Mr. R and me.

I'm really hungry...but not for food. I'm hungry for the Bread of Life! Here are some of the verses that are comforting me as we walk this road:

"Light is sown like see for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart."
Psalm 97:11

We can trust the Lord to light the way through the darkness of our current situation.

"Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation:
For You I wait all the day."
Psalm 25:4,5

We can trust the Lord to lead us. He will teach us how to walk the unfamiliar path He has ordained for Christina and our family as a result of her injury.

"Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name."
Psalm 29:1b-2a

We can trust the Lord with every nuance of this trial because His greatness is unfathomable. He is everything we are not. He is faithful and trustworthy. He is Light. He is Life. He is our everything all the time...but especially now.

I'll finish with one last favorite verse. We're expecting the surgeon to round on Christina any moment so I'll shut down my computer and return to her room. (Her daddy has been sitting with her.)

Here's that favorite:

"Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me with not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."
John 8:12

May God bless you and keep you and light your way, dear ones!

Update on Christina's Injury

Our deepest thanks to those of you who have been praying since Zhenya posted for Christina. She is pictured here on the right in Moscow five years ago this fall with her two biological sisters, Hope (middle) and Faith.

I will do my best to share more of the startling twist that took place four days ago later today. For now, I'll share a quick update on how 17-year-old Tina is doing since being kicked by a horse four days ago. God has been exceedingly merciful. The kick broke no bones but landed squarely in her abdomen. Remarkably, she's had no internal bleeding. As a However, her internal organs have been enlarged since the trauma. This has caused significant pain for Tina. God has granted her much grace though through the gift of drugs like morphine. She is slowly showing improvement which is ahead of schedule based on the surgeon's original estimate following an MRI. We don't know how much longer she will be hospitalized.

If you happen to be on Instagram, I have been keeping a running "journal" of sorts of this odyssey. You can find me at "barrennomore83".

I continues to amaze our family that anyone follows our blog, but we sure are grateful for your kind support. Thank you again to those who have been praying for Christina! Prayer MATTERS because our God LISTENS! We're so grateful to you! Denise

Friday, October 2, 2015

Please Pray!

Dear friends and followers of our blog, this is Zhenya writing on behalf of my mom. We would humbly ask for your prayers today as my sister Christina (pictured on the left) is in the hospital after being kicked by a horse yesterday. She was admitted into the hospital last nigh and was there overnight. She was kicked in the abdomen and seemed to be suffer some pain at first, but as the night went on, she got worse and worse. Christina has had several tests done and we are now waiting for the trauma specialist to let us know whether or not she will need surgery.  Please pray for her as she is in a LOT of pain! And please pray the wisdom of the doctors and nurses who are there. And last but not least please pray for my family, that we would have strength, wisdom and comfort in this situation, and that we would depend on God.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Summer's Last Wave

Friends, I have big dreams of blogging again. To try to get back in the groove, I'm starting with a post that's wonderfully simple. Mr. R and I drove to Minnesota today for a business meeting. My wonderful husband went out of his way to take me by one of my happy places on the way downtown Minneapolis. Please share with me the wonder of Noerenberg Memorial Gardens on the shore of Lake Minnetonka at sunset. The last of the year's foliage is rich with color and texture. Enjoy!

Goodbye, summer. Goodbye, Noerenberg Gardens.

To God be the glory!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Presenting Mr. and Mrs...

From my seat in the front pew, I was delighted to witness that wonderful moment when the pastor said, "I'd like to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Castille!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

From Hopeless Orphan to Beloved Wife

The day we first met Zhenya on her orphanage grounds.

Then. And...

God abounds in lovingkindness!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Surrounded by Love

Since we adopted Zhenya from Russia in 2001, she has been blessed to be surrounded by so many who want the very best for her. Her wedding day was a grand display of the support and love that have made her life rich and contributed to healing from deep scars from her early childhood. Her dad and I thank God for Zhenya's many many friends who have walked with her through thick and thin!

They. Are. Married!!!

6 September 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Our Marriage is Mending

To our dear readers, I'm so sorry that I have been so silent lately. Between preparing for Zhenya's wedding and a computer dilemma that has kept me from being able to export photos from Lightroom 5 (my photo editing software), I've been so long in posting.

This will be a quick post, but now that my wonderful, incredible man has solved my technology problem I'll be posting again.

Here's that man who is the love of my life. God has been so kind to grant us nearly 32 years together. We love the rare opportunities we get to travel alone. We love our little "just us" adventures. Truly, our entire marriage has been an unbelievable adventure. Someday I'd love to write the biography of our union. It's been a wild ride! I just can't believe the twists and turns that we never would have written into our own story had we been the authors. And, yet, through it all God has been our strength. He has made the journey beautiful...even in our ugly moments. He has showered our marriage with grace.

This weekend we went road tripping on a quick business trip. Our journey took us through one of my favorite places in this beautiful nation -- the small town of Galena, Illinois. Many of the buildings date back to the Civil War era in the 1860s.

The detail in these old buildings takes my breath away.

Here's the front of the building pictured above. Is this not amazing?

On this particular quick visit to this small town full of restaurants and shops, the doorknobs caught this photographer's eye.

I thank God that after a very rough three years or so, the Lord has opened the door to profound sweetness in our marriage again. The secret? We finally each got humble. We stopped slamming our one-flesh-life-partner with, "I deserve better from you". God lifted the mirror of His word and showed each of us just how selfish and self-focused we'd become as the daily-ness of life slowly heated up. We each started to look at "self" as the source of trouble, and stopped pointing the finger at each other. Only humility and brokenness over our own sin could heal our marriage. We thank God that we're passionately, wildly in love with one another again.

I feel like a newlywed all over again! Did I mention how crazy I am about my man???

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Sweet day Day to Celebrate

Today was a very happy one for our family. Anna, who's in a wedding here this weekend, flew in for a long weekend.

She couldn't bring the whole family, but she brought the newest member of our tribe, six-week-old Jillian. The little one had quite a fan club meet her at the airport!

And here was Jillian's reaction to meeting her many aunties and uncles as her Uncle Matthew held her still tiny hand.

Jillian's Auntie Zhenya (on the left), who held her so often during her first week of life when the two of us flew out to help Anna and her family, was immediately able to coax smiles out of her niece.

Uncle Matthew was the first to get to hold this precious gift from God.

As soon as Jillian was born I felt certain that this third girl in Aaron and Anna's family was going to have blue eyes like her sisters. Getting to see this grandtreasure again served only to confirm my suspicion. Such blue eyes, just like her daddy!

Not all of us were able to make the two-hour trip to the airport. Sarah, who has her own cake making business, is supplying cupcakes for the wedding of the family friend who is getting married this weekend. Here she's creating the candy ornaments with which she'll decorate each of the cupcakes.

These aren't just any cupcakes, however. These are cupcakes with a sweet purpose. The money Sarah earns from this job will go straight into the fund she is building to return to Zambia, Lord willing. She hopes to go back to the Kazembe orphanage in 2016 to work for a couple of years this time around.

I just want to finish this post by saying that this day was overflowing with yummy family time, including the joy of watching our children meet their newest niece. The day was extra sweet because 32 years ago today, Mr R proposed to me (and I immediately said YES!!!). We are both profoundly grateful to God for allowing us the wonder of walking the narrow road TOGETHER. There have been so many twists we never expected on July 30, 1983 when we agreed to marry one another.

The first upheaval to our dream life was not just infertility but barrenness. Multiple fertility specialists told us we would NEVER get pregnant. That news turned us toward adoption. And God blessed us above and beyond anything we would have dared to hope for by placing Anna in our arms within a few hours of her birth. Oh, how we thank God for the courage of her birthmother to go through with her pregnancy rather than aborting Anna! And, as it turns out, Anna has been the perfect leader of her 11 siblings. She loves Jesus deeply and seeks to serve Him. She is a blessed influence on the rest of her sisters and brothers. God's plan was so much better than our dream! What a glorious 32 years our journey has been, and today was a sweet day to celebrate.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy 21st, Sarah!

Sarah, who has her own cake-baking business, specifically asked to have ice cream instead of cake for her birthday celebration. The Blue Bunny ice cream parlor in LeMars was the perfect setting in which to celebrate her 21st birthday.

We were blessed that our dear friend, Kali Moores (Alison's sister-in-law), was visiting from Boston. We love having her visit her second home... our home!

The evening wasn't just about gifts. It was also a opportunity to enjoy great ice cream and great laughs together.  

We thank God for placing Sarah in our family 14 years ago! We can't imagine life without our sunshine girl.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Curious William

Our grandson is oh-so loved! This is childhood as God intended. This tender care is what millions fatherless children around the world completely miss out on. They are profoundly scarred as a result, but their lives CAN be redeemed when they have a loving home, are taught the gospel, and, by God's grace, eventually find their identity in Christ. Orphans must not be considered castaways! Please, dear friends, would you pray about entering the orphan care fray through adoption or foster care? All we ask is that you seek the Lord. Please go to His word and ask Him to show you His heart for the most vulnerable. If you take the step into orphan care, your life will be raw, hard and more blessed than you could ever have imagined!!! God cares for and leads those who care for the orphaned! We've experienced this 10 times over! He is so good!

(If you'd like to talk to me about adoption, my email is -- Please be aware, I'm not always quick to respond, life continues to be wonderfully crazy in our home with 10 children still living with us.)