Meaningful Monday: Guest Mandi Castle
Great is His Faithfulness is not just a song, a title, or a passing thought. He IS faithful, and we see proof of His faithfulness to us every single day. Meaningful Mondays are posts from guests who are willing to share their thoughts, lessons, and experiences on how faithful He has been in their lives.
Today, I am thrilled and honored to share this guest post from a woman I love deeply like a sister. Mandi is the friend that almost wasn't, because of my own carelessness. It's a long story, but suffice it to say that the first time I almost missed out on her friendship, she showed up with love and grace and laughter when no one else did. The second time I nearly abandoned our friendship, she showed me mercy and forgiveness when most folks would stomp the dust off their feet and walk away. I love how Mandi expressed herself in writing. To read her words is nearly the same as sitting at her kitchen table with a crackacino (what we called her incredible versions of fraps) and listening to her share her thoughts with all her snark and laughter and humility. Enjoy!
The Book of Ruth is much more than a mere love story. It is an integral segment of the Crimson thread. Every book is just a small part, a section of the thread; exploring and expanding on the condition of the world before Jesus Christ and mapping His lineage. When I read Ruth, I see our Father’s love and faithfulness. I see His mercy and promises. I see His master plan at work. I see the reciprocated kindness Ruth and Naomi shared that mirrors what God bestows on us. I’ve read Ruth a few times, and each time I do, I glean something different from it. It’s constantly building and growing. Just like God’s plan for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)
That brings me so much peace knowing that Our Father knows our future. He has plans for us and they are good. Now, I know some of you are more “human” than the rest of us, so you need to know the details of your life. You feel the need to control the minutia. I used to be that way. I also still have moments of wanting to white knuckle the reigns. Like I said, we are human.
Back in the time of Ruth she lived between turbulent times and changing times.
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6)
Worshipping God wasn’t the norm. Humans did what they wanted. Kinda like today. Like us.
“My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, That they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me.” (Psalm 101:6-7)
Living during those times must have been scary. I couldn’t imagine living without a leader or some semblance of order. Fearing the unknown is, for some of us, debilitating. Ruth’s decision to leave her hometown behind and travel to Bethlehem with Naomi couldn’t have been made lightly. How many of us would have happily volunteered to move cross country with your late husband’s mother? Uh, your mother-in-law?
If you read MY bio, you might understand: I could tell you with 100% certainty I wouldn’t have been able to just easily make that choice. Uh uh. No way. Aaaaaand I was a truck driver in the army. I LOVE road trips and new adventures, but not one where I would place all of my faith in this God-fearing woman.
For a long time, I had no idea what it meant to fully believe in God, or even what it truly meant to be a Christian. I had zero idea what grace was until my mid-30’s, sooooo I’m absolutely certain I would’ve bailed on my Mother-in-law(s). ::Except for my current MIL. I’d follow Marilyn anywhere. Her 82-year-old heart is so beautiful and faithful to the Lord. She bore seven children who bore her twenty-two grandchildren who bore her twenty-six great grandchildren as of today.
It may be a stretch for some of you to follow my next train of thought. I hope at least one of you understands my parallels.
I’m a Castle now. I’m now part of George and Marilyn’s legacy as the wife of their seventh child, Phillip. I met him 5.5 years ago in San Angelo, TX. He was married to an amazing woman, Amy. We were neighbors. I was in my eighth year of marriage to Dave. Amy came into my life shortly after my estranged father passed away, I was closing one of my businesses, and selling our home in preparation to move to our new duty station. (My ex was Air Force) I was in a whirlwind of life changes and struggling to find myself amidst the chaos that surrounded that plus having two toddler daughters and two teen boys.
I was also a baby Christian excited by His word. Another good friend introduced me to a group of phenomenal ladies who welcomed me into their world of studying His truth. I was growing in my faith. I was becoming the mom, wife, sister, friend my love ones deserved. I had a fire inside me. I was also learning I was in an unhealthy marriage.
Amy helped me. She guided me through such a difficult time. Her faith was a lighthouse for me. One evening before our move, she told me I would have a love just like hers: unconditional, supportive, healing, selfless, and equally yoked. I laughed at her words, because I was married to man I was not equally yoked with, but a third divorce wasn’t something I ever wanted. I couldn’t see yet another failure. I, human, was going to fix my life by my own (with a little help from God). She adamantly told me I would have her love.
Fast forward 4.5 years. I was freshly divorced, sharing custody of my girls, just landed a decent job as a floral designer ½ mile from my home, almost healed from my mental wounds from Iraq, childhood abuse and my dissolved marriage. I’d found a new sense of peace. I was barely making it myself, yet I opened up my tiny home to a single mother of three. We were being strong women of completely opposite backgrounds, together. Our young children learned about love in a beautiful way.
Then I got a call. Amy was called Home. I was devastated. My heart ached for Phil and his children. I traveled from South Carolina to Michigan for her memorial. About 2 weeks after that, I received a call from Phil. He was in a bad way. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to no longer have your best friend, partner, lover of 30 years just gone. I went to him. I traveled to New Mexico to help him walk out of the darkness. He helped me heal. We healed each other. We spent time, together, in the Bible. We also spent time with whiskey. Over time the whiskey lessened, and our faith and light grew. Together.
He needed to come home to his family in Michigan for more healing. I came with him. We are both each other’s Ruth, Naomi and Boaz. We recognized God’s hand (and Amy’s) in our path. We stopped fighting all of the weirdness and had faith. In hindsight, providence is evident in so many areas of my life. I will most definitely have to share more at a later time, but I must wrap this up.
God is faithful to His faithful. He has a plan for us and that plan is good.
Ruth was faithful to Naomi. She was faithful to God. Boaz married Ruth. Their son Obed fathered Jesse who then fathered David. That is all further along the Crimson Thread of Jesus. Our ultimate blessing for our faithfulness: Jesus Christ, our redeemer.
I’m sure Ruth had no idea that she would be David’s great-grandmother, just as I had no idea where I would find a love like my dear friend assured me I would find! How wonderful are the blessings bestowed on us when we are faithful!
About our Guest Contributor:
I’m Mandi. Mandi Rae Castle.
I started out Mandi Rae Reynolds, then made a series of life choices that made me who I am today. The map of that story is
::takes deep breath::
Mandi Rae Reynolds Craft Hickman Hagenbuch Castle
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I can tell you about my greatest accomplishments blessings. I’m a mother of four: two boys (well men now) and two girls in elementary school, 18 months apart in age. I’m an Army Vet having been deployed to Bosnia and Iraq. I love photography, painting, mosaic art, hiking and enjoying everything nature. I’m also one of those gals who love her coffee and wine. Both must be ice cold. I’m weird. I know. God made me that way.