Monday, September 29, 2008

Today I Feel...

It's no secret that I love my family...and it's definitely no secret that I am crazy about each one of my sibs individually... With that said, I thought I'd share what my friend Liz and I made my bro Joe last week as a "house warming" gift for his new pad in Columbus. He's just started a grad program there at Ohio State. This "mood magnet perfecto" makes me smile everytime I look at it because I just love the millions of faces Joe makes everytime anyone tries to click the camera. Here it is folks. Enjoy a few of the many faces of Joseph Castleton.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Good Hair Day

Liz and I had a wonderful time going to church this morning. The sky and the mountains really shone and their beauty made us smile. At church, we listened to a wonderful musical program by the U's Institute Singers. It seems that music speaks most directly to me and a few of their numbers did just that. Later, we were asked to introduce ourselves by naming our favorite flower. We found out that lots of lovely folks favor orchids and lilies. Who knew?!

To top things off, Liz and I discovered that we were both having really good hair days today! This is definitely an accomplishment worth documenting, and here is the picture to prove it. Don't you just love that face of Liz? She is so darn cute and so much fun.

Hope you had a good hair day too!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Because I Remember Them

Anyone reading this will most likely already know about their passing, but I'm keeping this blog just as much for myself as for anyone else who would like to read it. Although my dear friend Allison Walther and her dad, Craig, died in the car crash reported in the news July 19th of this year, it has taken me a while to be able to write about it formally. My journal contains my thoughts, but I wanted to post a tribute to both Craig and Allison - two wonderful people who have both played major roles in my life.

Ali was probably wearing one of her over sized sweatshirts (as we all did in those days:), with her beautiful straight blond hair flowing behind her, that first time I met her. We were going into 6th grade, I think, and I remember liking her from the start. She was happy, had a fun laugh that made you laugh right along with her, and beautiful eyes that always seemed to be smiling while they sparkled. Throughout the years, we sang in choirs together, went to church together, took math, English and history together, ran together, and laughed and talked together about funny things at school, our friends, and yes, even boys. Everyone who knew Ali, liked being around her. She, in turn, seemed to like everyone too.

The summer before our senior year at Rogers High School, Craig let Ali and I work at American Linen, where he had a senior position. Since we often worked different shifts, we'd leave each other love notes on yellow lined paper before or after most shifts. It was such a fun time and I treasure all our funny notes to each other. She seemed to always be full of so much happiness, love and good times. Though I kept it to myself, I often felt that I wanted to be like her.

Ali's sealing
to Jeremy Van Gieson in the Seattle, Washington Temple was the first that I ever attended. While there, I had a powerful witness that what she was doing was not only beautiful, but wonderfully right and the goal I should always maintain. Since my mission, I have seen Ali off and on as her family increased from two to five. As a mother, Ali always impressed me, especially because she seemed to continue to maintain that happy laugh and smile despite craziness :) and ups and downs. Yes, I'm aware she wasn't perfect, but she was so good.

Ali and I attended our high school reunion a few months ago. On our way home, we both had parents ask us to pick something up from the store, so what did we do? We caravaned to good ol' Top Foods, and ran through the store looking for the goods. It was a simple thing, but I am now so grateful for the mercy given to me; one more fun time with her, talking and laughing about the many adventures we've experienced.

Craig is Ali's dad. In many ways, he represents what a good father and husband should be like. Since I first met the Walther family, I remember Craig referring to his wife, Kathy, in church or in conversation, as his better half, as the reason he was who he was at that point. Throughout the years, he continued to praise Kathy and as I listened to him, I made a silent promise to myself that I wanted to find someone who respected women and would view me in that way too.

The Walther house is visible from the windows in the Castleton house :). On many afternoons, I would look out and see Craig and Ali practicing volleyball hits and serves on their lawn. Ali told me once that she knew she could talk to her dad about anything and that she felt he always loved her. Once again, I hoped I would find someone who would be that way for my girls someday.

I still remember coming to my family ward for church one Sunday while I was studying at Pacific Lutheran University. As I ran into Craig and stuck out my hand to give him a shake, he said something like, "Ah, Becky, you don't have to keep giving me handshakes - you're like my daughter. You have to give me hugs from now on!" And, I always did. Everytime I came home, I looked forward to running into Craig, giving him a hug and catching up on life for a moment. It was always very obvious to me how much he cared about me and about all of us "kids"...friends of his kids.

As I have thought about honoring Ali and Craig, I have decided to try and reach out a little more, be a better friend, smile a little more, and laugh a little truer. Ali and Craig did that for me; they lifted me and their memory continues to lift me still. I miss them both, but because they loved me and because I love them, I will be a better person to the rest of my siblings on this earth. Thank you to both of you.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

When it Rains

This week was wonderful. It was also difficult - kind of a bummer for a couple people I love. Nothing terrible happened in their lives, just difficult things, disappointments, hopes not met. Why do I include this in my Celebrate Your Life blog? :) Well, because I felt the desire to do so tonight as I listened to a great speaker discuss how sometimes, the hardships we experience, as terrible as they can be, are what push us forward in life, and are the experiences that bring us closer to an understanding with God and with ourselves. It can be beautifully sobering. Though the process almost feels physically or emotionally debilitating at times, we need to struggle, to feel disappointment and sorrow. Through this, the Lord blesses us, enlarges our hearts, and can give us eye-opening, revelatory experiences.

My life has been beautiful. As I reflect on the situations and circumstances I've been given, I realize again and again what a gift it is to experience pain, loss, sadness, and disappointment. Struggling, climbing, fighting to run, to breathe and to sing is a purifying and perspective-giving process. And then, when you smile, your eyes not only carry brightness and light, but an increased measure of depth. They not only feel happy because of something positive, but because they know how much sweeter the good is from the unpleasant, how much more wonderful the beautiful is than the unattractive, and how much more enjoyable it is to laugh than to cry. But, this appreciation still respects the unpleasant, the less than beautiful, and especially the tears. These strengthen its inner joy, light and peace.

I wish you sunshine from the rain, but while it is yet raining, remember
that you can still hold your head up through the storm, wet as you'll be. The rain will stop eventually, your rough days will always come to an end. Things will get better. I can not take away your pain, but I can love you and can hope for patience while we experience this refining process. Sunshine is right around the next corner.