Meet our dear friend, DeAnna. We have no doubt her Whimsy story will be a beautiful blessing and reminder of His faithfulness to us during those tough seasons when we are often asking, "How can this possibly be good for me? Why is this happening?"
Sometimes we must choose to believe and take Him at His Word when nothing around us seems to make one bit of sense.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
Have you ever been mad at God because life didn’t work out the way you thought it was supposed to? Have you done everything you thought you were supposed to do but life fell apart anyway? Yeah, I have, but I didn’t want to admit it at the time.
I was raised in the church and gave my life to Jesus when I was nine-years-old. I grew up in a Christian home with an incredible family. We were not wealthy by any means, but we never lacked. Growing up in a home where church attendance and church activities are a normal part of life and church friends are also your school friends, the way I lived was not necessarily because I was making conscious choices to honor God. This was just the way our family lived. I guess I never made my relationship with Jesus my own. I read my Bible . . . sometimes, and I prayed . . . sometimes, but it wasn’t daily “relationship” or “communication” with Jesus. BUT . . . I was in church multiple times a week and involved in all the activities. That counts, right?
After college, I moved back in with my parents and was back in the church where I had grown up. I started dating a guy I had known in school and after several months, we decided to get married. Again, I wasn’t communicating with God about these choices. BUT we were both in church and choir and Sunday School and ran a bus route and he was a deacon and . . .
Our marriage looked perfect from the outside. We had fun together and didn’t fight, but we had not been able to have children. Both of us wanted a house full of children, and I just assumed that we would have them. I didn’t realize it at the time, but life was not going as I had planned it would. I was beginning to question God. Why me? All these other women can have children and some of them don’t even want them! I would love them! What did I ever do that was so wrong that You would punish me like this and not let me have children?!
After seven years of marriage, my husband had an affair. I was mortified. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t breathe. Satan (our enemy) whispered in my ear, “you did this”, “it’s all your fault”, “if you had been a better wife this never would have happened” . . . and I believed him. I didn’t tell anyone about the affair because, in my mind, it was my fault. I wouldn’t agree to counseling because I couldn’t bear to tell anyone. So I stuffed it down and put my smile back on my face and we went to church and did all the things . . . No one knew.
So, I was busy checking off my list of all the things that I thought I needed to do to be a good wife and a good Christian, but I was not talking to God about any of it. I took on life in my own strength and my own wisdom. I went to Bible studies and church and retreats, but I still never REALLY surrendered my decision-making to God. I was too busy being busy.
After two years of trying to work things out, which consisted of us going through the motions and not dealing with anything, Satan (our enemy) whispered in my ear, “I didn’t deserve this”, “I had put up with enough” and “I had every right to leave” . . . and I believed him. So I left. I took care of my own pain by walking out on it. I walked straight into the arms of another man – not a believer but a long-time friend who knew I was having trouble in my marriage and he was just waiting for his chance with me. I didn’t talk to God about it. I had turned my back and crossed my arms and said to God, “thanks, but I’ll take it from here”. That marriage was filled with some good times and lots of bad times. I turned myself inside-out trying to be what I thought my new husband wanted me to be – not what God wanted me to be.
I didn’t go anywhere near a church for fifteen years except to please my parents on special occasions. Husband #2 eventually had an affair also and left me. And my words to my mother were, “how in the world can this be happening again?!” But still, I was not talking to God. I was still mad at Him for letting the first marriage fail and for not giving me babies!
"But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high." Psalm 3:4
I married again and have been blessed to be Mrs. Frank Casteel. After two failed marriages though, there is the inevitable baggage. I always relied on the fact that I had a good job and could provide for myself if “this husband deserted me, too”. But in 2014, God let me get fired, and I was devastated. This is where God needed me to be so I would hear Him - totally unable to provide for myself.
A friend told me about a book he had read that changed his life and suggested that I read it. I agreed to read Radical by David Platt because I didn’t know what else to do. And God broke my heart and started chipping away at all the layers of protection that I had built for myself.
I was challenged to read the Bible through in a year, but I didn’t even know where my Bible was at the time. But I found it and began reading it. I was praying every morning and listening. And God spoke to my heart. Very gently, He would speak to me about one thing and allow me to deal with it and then another thing and let me deal with it. I finally get it.
Our Heavenly Father is Abba, Father – “Daddy.” He loves us SO much and never tells us to do anything to hurt us or to take anything away from us, unless it is in our best interest. All we have to do is believe Him, really believe Him – and take Him at His word. He has allowed me to suffer the consequences of my own bad decisions – “tough love” – just like any good parent would do. But over the last year and a half, He has brought new people into my life, new friends that I can share with. The healing began when I opened my mouth to share with others what God has done in my life so that it might help them. God will use anything and everything in our lives to do good for someone else if we will only let Him.
I am continually overwhelmed at how God weaves things together. Just the mention of a book from a friend began a journey for me that I never would have guessed eighteen months ago. A girlfriend asking me to a Bible study with her turned into amazing friendships with eight women who now feel like sisters. The girl that originally invited me to the study was never able to attend another session, but God got me there through her invitation. My decision to start attending church again turned into me running into a friend I used to work with, and now I’m spending time with her children helping with homeschool and the park and the library and going out to lunch and doing the daily things with children that I never got to do. Another girlfriend asked me to a monthly dinner meeting with some ladies she knew, and it turned into precious friendships with four women although the girl that invited me had schedule conflict after schedule conflict and never came to another meeting. God is so conscious of our needs and our hurts and our desires and our struggles and our dreams and every single detail of our lives. He wants to be involved in all of it.
"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17
He loves us so intensely, and I am in awe of how tenderly He works when we let Him. No matter where you are in your journey, as you take each step, God is there waiting on you. He’s been waiting on you to trust Him. One step at a time, get in His Word every day and begin to talk to Him – really talk to Him – and He WILL do what He says He will do. Then as you see Him work and heal and lead, it will strengthen your faith to take the next step. I am excited every day to see Him working in my life and He longs to love you well and then ultimately love others well through you.
Praise Him for the unfathomable grace, love and joy He has for us.....no matter what the entangled road of our life looks like.
And, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:18
Thank you DeAnna for your sharing your story with us. May the Lord always be your everything.
Thank you Julie Bird for always taking beautiful pictures for these stories.