About Me

  Patricia Hammell Kashtock

Aka: Pat Kashtock. Mother of three, wife of one. BA in Social Work and Biblical Studies. Graduate work at Virginia Tech interrupted, then derailed by oldest child’s brain tumor...

My life has not followed the course I planned. But I am not complaining. Pain is to be expected in a world broken apart from its Creator.

The miracle resides in the ability to find joy when least expected...


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For What It's Worth

Each life is a journey. The voices of many guides try to direct us, saying, “This is the path – walk in it!” Yet each one leads in a different direction.

I believe only one Voice can be true. That Voice will lead us in ways most unexpected, into worlds yet undiscovered. It will lead us up the hill, around the river and through the forest. And sometimes, it will lead without mercy.

Or so it seems.

I have made listening for that Voice and following it, my life’s quest. I will share some of what I have heard that Voice say with you. But I am not in the business of telling people how to think or what to believe. Each has to decide for himself. Only you can decide if you find the truth of the Voice in these words. And only you can decide how much it is worth to know the Voice, and follow.

But for me, it is worth the whole world.

And then some…

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Christmas 2009 – Bound Together by Floods of Snow

A warm glow of light hovered about two-thirds of the way up the walls of the sixth floor of Sibley Memorial Hospital. Carpet and acoustic ceiling hushed the ordinary sounds of waiting. A volunteer sat at the desk. He never called out a name. If he needed to talk to one of us, he shooshed over on quiet feet, his voice an undertone of ocean surf.


Sometimes things evolve differently than planned. This Christmas season promised rich celebration. Galen and Lacey were to spend Christmas with her family so they could visit extended family before Lacey’s parents had to move to Tennessee. So the two of them arranged flights to NYC in order spend the following week with our family in NJ. A whole week, through the New Year’s. Justin and Hillary were even going to be able to make it up for part of the time. This would probably be the last year Galen and Lacey could spend so long with each set of families. Lacey finishes grad school at the end of this school year, and Galen likely by the end of the next calendar year. Real-world jobs with short vacations comprise their next steps.


This time of year, if I think too closely, I sense the void left by Heidi’s loss. The joy found with our families softens the jagged edges inside this space. So I really looked forward to this Christmas week spent in that warm embrace. Then Mike’s pain from his neck became unbearable, and surgery became necessary. Mike would not be able to travel. Galen tried, but could not change the flights. Suddenly we faced the Christmas season largely alone.


Mary and Joseph also faced that first Christmas alone. Only, they did not know it was Christmas. Still, they had to journey far from their families and the support for the birthing those families offered. Had to be tough to be away from your Mom and your village when you are about to give birth to your first child. Nothing was familiar. No one, known. Certainly, the accommodations lacked polish. Not sure what I think of a donkey as a birth attendant.


I imagine Mary was a far better sport about it than I was. Though maybe she too cried some tears of loneliness.


But in the end, Mary and Joseph were not alone, and neither were we. After trying to find a solution, Galen and Lacey decided to come up a couple of days after Mike’s surgery. Those plans took an emergency turn as a blizzard swooped up the coast. Leaving things undone, they raced to outrun the storm as I ran back to the hospital to get Mike. And so we had part of Christmas a bit early instead of a bit late. And a very white Christmas at that. I enjoyed digging out the snow. Galen’s strong arms made short work of it, digging more than twice what I could in half the time.


I am grateful that Justin and Hillary live nearby. Love and warmth radiate from them and they bring us joy. They shared Christmas night with us, and we all curled up in the living room, kept warm from the cold and frozen ground outside.


Come June, all thoughts of snow will be gone as we travel to South Carolina for Galen and Lacey’s wedding. Both sets of parents married on June 19, 1976, so Galen and Lacey picked June 19, 2010 to wed. Justin and our nephew David will head down to cook for the rehearsal dinner. I’m sad the Caines family will have to move after that. SC doesn’t seem so far.


Life just does not care to cooperate with our plans.


Like those shepherds. There they were, minding their own business. Settled in for the night. Maybe having a drink or two. Or three. Suddenly the sky erupts with gigantic beings of light. And the course of those shepherds changed forever amid their wails of terror.


“Fear not!” The sky-quake boomed. The shepherds feared, anyway. “I bring you good news.”


Hmm? Maybe it is safe to look up, they thought. Like children, they peaked between their fingers to see a swarm of angels fill the heavens. “Follow the star. There you will find Him.”


Gripped with something between dread and awe, the shepherds stumbled into Bethlehem, probably annoying the villagers as they went. That was how Mary and Joseph came not to be alone that first Christmas night. Suddenly, a celebration swarmed into the birthing room. And they had a party. Which is as it should be, of course. It seems the Lord loves a good party. Some of us Marthas get that wrong. So we fear.


But if we determine to follow Him, we need not fear. The Lord says:


Don’t be afraid, for I will help you. I am the Lord, your Redeemer. I have chosen you and will not throw you away. I have called you back from the ends of the earth. Do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand. I am holding you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, “Do not be afraid. I am here to help you.”

And I believe He would continue to say

-- Do not grow weary, although you are weary.

Do not lose heart, for I am with you.

Do not be afraid, for I will hold you up when your knees buckle, when you falter. I will see this through to the end. I just need your cooperation.

You need to determine to trust Me.

Don’t give up. Keep trusting Me. Follow My lead. I am leading you. I will lead you and I will not lead you astray if you look to Me above all others.

Nothing is too big for Me. Be not afraid. –


The shepherds and the Magi followed that bright star.  Like them, we can resolve to follow Him. And He will lead us by still waters - if we look to Him. Even if at times to reach that place of refreshment, He must lead us through the valley dark as the shadow of death, He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. And His name is called Faithful and True.


May you find Him fully in this year to come, and know the blessing of love He has for you.


All our love,

            Patty and Michael

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