2.20.2019

A fair fight.

After sharing about my difficult and disheartening day, I received thoughtful notes from sisters sharing words of encouragement, empathetic statements and promises to pray. Each one lived out the beautiful verse, A person finds joy in giving an apt reply - and how delightful is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23
And I praised God for them!

I woke up this morning thinking about yesterday, wondering how I was able to be knocked down so easily. I know my enemy. I know his methods. I know he knows my weaknesses. I even knew the "when" of his attack because of our leap of faith into the foster care world. A world he wants to control. And yet, I was blindsided.
Even the greatest military general has been surprised. But what makes him great? Being prepared to fight back because his men are always ready. It doesn't matter if they see the blow coming or get thwacked in the back of the head. They are armed, trained, and ready for battle.
And that is where I made my mistake.
KNOWING the enemy is going to attack is one thing.
Being READY to face the attack is quite another.

Yesterday, I was blindsided. But getting knocked out was completely my fault. I was not prepared to defend myself.
Instead of suiting up in battle gear, I was wearing running shorts, swim fins, and wielding a toothbrush. I couldn't have stood my ground if I tried!
So why was I surprised when I fell flat on my face and needed help up, only to find myself battered and bruised? Why was I surprised the enemy chose to attack me instead of the guy wearing the titanium vest and swinging a bronze sword? Why was I surprised that I was surprised?!?
There is only one answer: I was not PREPARED.
This sobering fact reminded of the verse,
If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! Proverbs 24:10
Friends! I do not want to be a woman of small strength! I want to be a woman who stands firm. A woman who is immovable. A woman who can bear up under the trials and pressures of life.
Yesterday? No one would have trusted me to take care of a gerbil, let alone defend them in a spiritual battle.

But today ...
I stayed in bed, refusing to let my feet hit the floor until I worked this out with the Lord.
I prayed. I confessed. I repented. I called to mind every Scripture I could remember about being a soldier of Christ. And the Lord met me where I was, graciously pouring HIS strength into me until I was able to stand up and declare, "I am READY for today, Lord! Let's GO!"

Like any day, it was not a perfect one, but - every battle was a fair fight.
How grateful I am the Lord never EVER leaves His children to fight alone!


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:10-18

2.19.2019

Content, peaceful, and thankful.

Today was a difficult day.
Emotionally, I bounced between anger and tears.
Physically, I bounced between pacing and flailing my arms like an angry Greek, and curling into a ball on my bed.
Spiritually, I bounced between sin and repentance, intentionally refusing to take my thoughts captive so my anger would not be abated, and crying out to the Lord for forgiveness.
The day was long, my emotions were raw, and my mind would not quiet itself.
BUT GOD.
He stepped in and spoke the words be still to my anxious, fret-filled, chaotic heart - and all was calm.
No more anger. No more tears.
Just peace.
And as He often does, He used music to minister to me.
I know this song well, but when I heard it today while lamenting on a drive to pick up children, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time.
I was both broken and buoyed by the lyrics because they reminded me that even if the whole world is against me, I have everything because I have Christ.

And now, after the 17th repeat of listening to this beautiful truth, and a long walk with my husband, I am not only at peace.
I am content.

"Only You" - David Crowder

Take my heart, I lay it down
At the feet of You who is crowned
Take my life, I'm letting go
I lift it up to You who is throned
And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You Lord
Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I'm leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be all my delights, be my everything
And It's just you and me here now
Only You and me here now
You should see the view
When it's only You


2.13.2019

A woman of VALUE who earns VENERATION.

Last night we completed our seven-month study of The Proverbs 31 Woman!
Our pastor preached this sermon on Mother's Day last year, and our COMMITTED group was so encouraged and challenged by the message we decided to dissect it and spend an entire month focusing on one of the seven points. And it was, indeed, time well spent!
Each month we shared our joy about the areas in which we have seen growth and success, and then confessed our places of weakness so we could encourage and pray for one another as we continue to pursue godliness day by day, week by week, year by year.
And because Scripture implores us to build one another up with our words, we closed out our study by writing personal notes of appreciation to our pastor, highlighting the ways his message blessed and challenged each of us. Because the truth is, it was his hard work, his time, and his investment in Scripture that provided the platform for our study. And we are - truly grateful!

Our first study: A woman of VIRTUE
Our second study: A woman of VIGOR
Our third study: A VERSATILE woman
Our fourth study: A VIVACIOUS woman with a delightful VOCABULARY

Our final study in this series ... A Woman of VALUE who has earned the VENERATION of others

A Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of value
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. v. 10
✽ She is PRICELESS
✽ She is a rare find, but she does exist!
✽ A woman who is virtuous, versatile, vivacious, and opens her mouth in wisdom is worthy of finding and cherishing
✽ This kind of woman does not just "appear," but has been purposely pursuing godly character qualities and because she has been faithful - not perfect, but faithful - she is considered valuable

A Proverbs 31 woman deserves veneration
veneration = gratitude from others
❊ She has invested in and enriched others, so now, it is time for her husband and her children to express their gratitude for her sacrifice, her hard work, her love, and her care
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” v. 28, 29

She appreciates the praise but does not expect it, and therefore, she accepts the praise with humility and grace
What is being praised? Her INNER beauty.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. v. 30
The best and most beautiful thing about her is her love for the Lord
❊ Lemuel's mother is encouraging him not to look for outer beauty - but true beauty - the beauty that comes from the inside because of her love for God
- is she godly?
- is she a woman of prayer?
- does she have a heart for the work of God?
❊ The outside will change, her beauty and looks will fade, but her insides can continually improve and become even more beautiful
She clothes herself in strength and dignity. v. 25
She adorns the doctrine of God, making it beautiful and attractive to others

Her image is taken from God's image
His glory fuels her passion
His grace animates her works
His holiness fosters her humility
His joy underwrites her cheerfulness

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31: 10-31

2.12.2019

Happy Birthday, Micah!


19 years!
The Lord has gifted you with 19 years of LIFE, Micah!
And we are grateful.❤

You add humor and fun to our days.
You are able to liven up any room and draw people into conversation and laughter.
You are quick to serve.
Quick to encourage.
Quick to give. Of your possessions and yourself.

It has been a joy to watch you grow and mature as a young man, pursuing your dreams, stepping out of your comfort zone, and pushing yourself farther than you thought you could go.
Even when you are hit with a setback, you respond with grace. Though frustrated, you take a deep breath, give yourself time to absorb the blow, and then look for a new way of doing things until you are able to do it your own way again. Don't ever let that character quality - resilience - atrophy.
Life is filled with challenges, changes, and disappointments, but the man who can adapt to the changes and find the beauty in the ash heap is a man who will be used by God to affect change and inspire others.
Be that man, Micah!

You have always been a thoughtful, affectionate son and brother and a faithful friend.
You bring great delight to me and your father, and your siblings enjoy and respect you.
Because you are a faithful friend, you attract strong, loyal, encouraging friends in return.
Cling to them! Invest in them! Invite them to speak truth into your life! And then watch as the Lord uses them to sharpen you in ways you could never accomplish on your own.

It has been a privilege to walk through your nineteen years of life TOGETHER, Micah Steven, and I look forward to walking through the rest of the years the Lord has ordained for us as mother and son.
You are a treasure, and I value your affection, your gentleness, your hugs, your "I love yous," and your desire to grow as a man and as a child of God. I will always love you, and I will always be here.
Mom ♥

A VIVACIOUS woman with a delightful VOCABULARY.

My girls and I enjoyed another fantastic study and discussion of the Proverbs 31 woman.
Our first study: A woman of VIRTUE
Our second study: A woman of VIGOR
Our third study: A VERSATILE woman

Our new study ...A VIVACIOUS Woman with a Delightful VOCABULARY

The Proverbs 31 woman is vivacious!
vivacious = lively, bursting with life!
✤ She is not a cloud over her husband's or children's head
✤ She is energetic and lively, she laughs, she loves, she is cheerful
✤ She happily goes about her business
she willingly works with her hands v. 13
✤ She is capable, unafraid of hard work or what is to come
she laughs at the future v. 25
✤ She brightens the lives of those around her, creating happy, wonderful memories for her family
her children rise up and call her blessed v. 28
her husband praises her v. 28, 29
✤ She is medicine to her husband and children
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
She promotes joy in the home! She whistles while she works!
"She enjoys a constancy and firmness of mind and has a spirit to bear up under crosses and disappointments." - Matthew Henry

The Proverbs 31 woman has a delightful vocabulary
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Prov 18:21
How we speak to our husbands and our children affects the climate of the home and our relationships
She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue v. 26
She is the polar opposite of the nagging wife, the woman of indiscretion, and the seductress
✢ Lemul's mother is saying, "Don't just LOOK at her ... LISTEN to her."
✢ A wonderful acronym for how to use our words!
Weigh them
Order them
Redeem them
Direct them
Soften them

Weigh them
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. Proverbs 15:28
Order them
A person finds joy in giving an apt reply-- and how good is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23
Redeem them
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Proverbs 10:11
Direct them
A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies. Proverbs 14:5
Soften them
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:1, 4


An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31: 10-31

2.08.2019

CHOOSING JOY in the midst of trials!

This past Sunday the Lord used our pastor to encourage His sheep with the fabulous biblical truth that the believer can choose and possess true, tangible and contended JOY in the midst of trials. 
I pray it will encourage anyone who needs to be reminded that our God is good - our God is faithful - our God is ABLE - and our God is an ever-present help in times of trouble.♥

James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:
Greetings.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
James 1:1-12
The question is not, "WILL you have trials?" for tears, trials, and tests are a part of life.
The question is, "How will you RESPOND to trials?"
Temptations can destroy our faith. Trials can develop our faith.
The PEOPLE
- James is writing to persecuted believers who have been scattered abroad
- He writes to encourage them in their trials because their trials are SURE
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, James 1:2
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. I Peter 4:16
- Their trials are SUDDEN
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, James 1:2
Falling is not planned - it just happens
- Their trials are SELECT - a certain test at a certain time
The PERSPECTIVE
Count it all joy when you fall into various trials ... James 1:2
- We need to choose joy when we are entering and in the trials - not just afterward when all of the dust has settled
- Choosing joy in the sorrows and setbacks of life is not natural - but it is what God requires
- Instead of seeing trials as intruders, we need to see them as guests
guests that can educate us and guests that can be enjoyed
- Trials are ASSETS, not liabilities
- Theology must shape emotions and responses ---> not the other way around!
- Joy does not equal a shallow or temporary happiness, but a settled contentment and attitude of thankfulness
- Values determine your evaluation
- Serious sorrows create the sweetest saints - because - they counted their trials and sorrows as JOYFUL GUESTS and matured in their faith because of their biblical perspective
- If you value character, value your trials
The PURPOSE
Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2, 3
- You may not be thankful FOR your trials, but you can be thankful IN your trials
- Faith is made stronger through fire
- "Let patience have its perfect work." Invite the trials in! Embrace them! Let everything unfold to reveal God's purpose and plan.
- WAIT ON THE LORD! 
It is easy to bail out too early in a crisis. The Christian must remain FIRM. Steadfast. 
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10
The PRAYER
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
- Wisdom is not natural, it is Divine
- Ask for wisdom not to waste your sorrow. Ask that it will be used to strengthen your character.
The PROSPECT
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
- One day the trials will end. No more sorrow, disappointments, or pain. Just JOY - forevermore!

2.07.2019

This and that.

Seven years ago I held this little girl, Grace, and her twin brother Henry in my arms when they were just weeks old. I barely knew their parents then, but I knew enough to want to be a part of their foster and adoption journey. And because they are gracious and wonderful people - they let me!
I will never forget the night I met Henry and Grace.
At the time, we were praying and considering a family mission trip to Africa, but as I held one teeny, tiny twin in each arm I realized that for the price of one week in Africa, we could change the life of another human being - forever.
We stayed home.
Fast forward five years. Our families were intertwined in a unique way, and through that, the Lord grew a friendship over the last three years that is precious and wonderful.
I had no idea when I held those little babies in my arms that we would one day be praying and working and preparing to become a Resource Family for babies in our own home! And yet, here we are. Thankful, blessed, and grateful. And it all started with Henry and Grace.❤

Speaking of ...
this is my darling sister and friend, Beth!
We planned, prepared, and prayed for the Lord to use The DropBox documentary to affect the hearts and minds of every person who attended our ministry movie night.
♥Special Needs + Orphan Care♥
We had no idea what to expect. Who would show up? 20 people? 40 people? 100?
We walked by faith, trusting the Lord to bring those He wanted to see, hear, and be challenged by the film.
Imagine our delight when 250 people walked through the doors!
Seniors, young couples, single men, teenagers, and children. Each one was drawn in by the invisible hand of a caring and compassionate God.
And I am confident that lives will be changed because of it.
The night was more than Beth and I expected - but everything we hoped for!♥

When we surrendered our family to foster care and adoption, we knew we were entering a war zone.
The enemy does not want the innocent protected.
He does not want the weak to be made strong.
He does not want the mute to be given a voice.
Every effort to rescue children from harm invites an attack from his camp. We have witnessed it, heard testimony of it, and wept with those who experienced it.
And the very day we turned in our foster care application we had to pull the enemy's arrows out of our own backs.
BUT GOD ... had already gone before us to move others to encourage us in our discouragement!
My brother and CC, together with their kids, called us three days later to announce that they started an Eastman Orphan Care Fund! Their excitement was contagious and it felt like the Lord was saying, "I see you. I know what you need. Do not lose heart!"
When we said goodbye to our family we looked at each other and smiled. NOTHING is too difficult for the Lord!

As I was preparing for my monthly meeting with the lovely woman who disciples me, I stepped away from the prep for a few minutes and found this site quite amusing when I returned.
All of this material was necessary just to BEGIN the current assignment she has given me. We haven't even started the actual work!
And I LOVE IT!
She pushes and challenges me in a way no one else has even attempted, and after two years of lapping up huge puddles of her godly wisdom and counsel, I want MORE.
How thankful I am for Titus 2 women!

Yesterday I turned the final page of this fantastic biography.
What an encouragement this man's life is to the saints who choose to study the way he lived!
My volumes are full of underlining and highlighting, for there is much to remember and take to heart. Below are two of his life mantras that move me most, and convict me to emulate his example.

"As he made his way toward the assembled congregation an elderly bystander, observing him more uneasy than usual, said to him, Sir, you are more fit to go to bed than to preach." To which Mr. Whitfield answered, "True, Sir:" but turning aside, he clasped his hands together, and looking up spoke, "Lord, Jesus, I am weary in Thy work, but not of Thy work. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for Thee once more in the fields, seal Thy truth, and come home and die."

In his last days, while suffering for breath, Whitefield said to his faithful assistant, "I cannot breathe, but I hope I shall be better by and by; a good pulpit sweat today may give me relief; I shall be better after preaching."
His assistant responded that he wished his master would not preach so often.
Whitefield replied, "I would rather wear out than rust out."
And this he did. Faithfully, wholeheartedly serving His God until he could literally do so no more.
May we all, like George, wear out for the Lord. ❤

One of Luke's dreams is now a REALITY!


Luke's dream dog - a HUSKY - is now part of the Eastman family!
Meet ORION.

Luke is the Master of Orion. I am the General.
(As a full-time student and a 30-hour-a-week employee,
someone has to act as master-in-charge when Luke is gone, and I volunteered!
But for the blonde hair and slender build, Luke and I are twins, so we make a great team.)

This morning we praised God for His creativity in making Orion while cradling him during our morning Bible time and prayed he would be a blessing to our family,
and a source of joy for anyone who meets him.

As a mom, I am thrilled that my son’s dream to own his own husky has come true! 
πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™
Let the training and fun BEGIN!




While Orion is 100% Luke’s dog, every Eastman has committed to caring for, protecting, and playing with him so he knows he is part of the WHOLE family.
This dog will be loved well!

1.31.2019

A wonderful day of HOPE!

hope
/hōp/
noun
1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, plan, dream, daydream, pipe dream;

This was the gift we received today. HOPE.

After two years of hearing, "You can't" since surrendering our family to foster care/adoption, we finally heard the two words for which we have been praying to roll off the tongue of a foster agency specialist. “You CAN!”  

Last week, we took a huge leap of faith and turned in our application to become a Resource Family. 
Step #1Step #2Step #3, and Step #4 (still a work in progress), were all steps that required surrender, obedience, and trust. And each one lead us here. 
Step #5! Officially applying to become a Resource Family!

We applied to be certified as an Emergency Shelter Home for babies, with extra training for specialized medical needs. We made it through the paper interview, and today we made it through the first personal interview! Next, our entire family meets with a social worker, and if approved, we will begin the 4-6 month certification process. Which means, if all goes well, we could be holding a baby by summer! THIS summer!

My phrase, when asked, has been, "We are excited, but contained." We know there are still hurdles to jump and mountains to climb, and more importantly, God's timing may not match our own, so we wait with expectant patience knowing His timing is perfect.
When He says GO - we will march! 
When He says STOP - we will halt!
And when the enemy attacks we will tell him to stuff his weapons in a sack and take a flying leap off the nearest cliff!
It is the Lord who called us to the adoption and foster care world, and it is He who will prepare us, protect us, and provide for us. Our God is faithful and He does not abandon those He calls!
We have absolutely no idea what lies ahead, but that is okay because our God DOES. Our job is not to worry about tomorrow. Our job is to keep walking forward in obedience and trust Him with the details. And so - we will!

After our interview, I wanted to set up an Ebenezer stone. One that represented the HOPE that shined brightly on this gray, rainy day. 
I packed up Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie and drove to the nearest store that boasted a collection of baby items.
I wanted something we could look at every day that screams, "They will come! The babies WILL come!"
And now, these soft, sweet security blankets sit on our mantle next to our Orphan Care jar to remind us that our plans may be good - but God's plans are BEST. 

January 31, 2019.
The day the Lord gave us tangible HOPE for our adoption and foster care journey.
How fitting that Ellie, Josiah, and Isaiah read Proverbs 31 for our devotions this morning.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8, 9


Lord, thank You for today! Thank You for being faithful to bring us to this place after almost three years of waiting on You to prepare our family for what You want us to do. You did not just call me and Dennis, for when You call the parents to foster or adopt, You call the children too. Thank You for giving our children the desire and the passion to serve these babies. Thank you for giving them the ability to understand the need, and to step in and meet it. You know our desire is to have babies in our home to hold and love and snuggle, but we know that all of our plans are subject to Your will, so we pray You will prepare us for YOUR plans, even if they look nothing like ours. We did not start this journey, Lord. You set us on it, from the very beginning, with purpose, and with an expectation that we would obey. We have had fears, we have had setbacks, and we have doubted ourselves, but through each one, You have reminded us that YOU ARE GOD and there is nothing that is too difficult for You. Thank You for this truth, Father, and may we be faithful to cling to it in the weeks and months ahead so we are not distracted or discouraged when the days are long and difficult. We love You. Please, teach us to love You more!

1.17.2019

Luke's 2019 adventure!


The siblings posed with Luke before we sent him off on his long-awaited Alaskan Adventure! 


Chaperoned by Chris & Lexie, the trio will spend three days viewing, photographing, and standing in awe of the NORTHERN LIGHTS! The predicted “high” is 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so we hope he makes it home with all of his fingers - and his nose! ❄️☃️❄️⛄️
They are going to have a fantastic time exploring the great state of Alaska,
and if all goes as planned, Luke will get to drive a dogsled! 


And to top it off, his new dog - ORION - will be waiting for him when he returns. πŸ’™
He has been dreaming of this dog for Y E A R S. And now, the dream is becoming a reality!
2019 is starting off well for our Luke!

1.11.2019

Emulating their example, and encouraged to do so!

During the twenty-five years Dennis and I have been married, we have been blessed to walk through the foster and adoption process with several friends and family members. We witnessed the frustrations and setbacks in paperwork and fundraising. We watched couples battle impatience while waiting to be selected as parents by the birth mom or discover which child from the orphanage would become their own. We wept with them when the child they thought was theirs, the child they prayed over for months, was taken away and not always replaced with another. We shared in their hurt over the criticism and lack of support from family and friends. Each one was difficult, and often, disheartening. 

And yet, not one of those families regretted their decision. None ever said, "It wasn't worth it." The time, the energy, the emotion, the tears, the disappointments, the heartache, the sacrifices ... every family we know declares they would do it again a thousand times.
Why?
To quote David Platt, "Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It's easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."

The families who invited us to share in their journey not only educated us about the realistic hurdles and heartaches that accompany foster care and adoption, they showed us the Gospel.
obedience
prayer
surrender
sacrifice
faith
trust
defending the weak
speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves
considering others needs before your own
hope
gratitude
peace in the midst of sorrow
joy
Each family modeled these with honesty, with vulnerability, and with grace. Even on the worst days when nothing went right, discouragement lurked around every corner, and the "why" of orphan care got lost in the ugliness of the hard moments - they cried out, "This is worth it!!!!!" They may not have liked all of it or even liked themselves or their kids some days, but they made a commitment to be ALL IN. And their faithfulness to care for, protect, serve, love, and speak the Gospel to every child in their home put hands and feet on their commitment. And I stood in awe of them.

Fast forward a decade when the Lord swept a new group of foster and adoption women into my life through the Orphan Care ministry at church. They allow me in, they let me ask questions, they speak freely about their experiences, they enthusiastically declare the beautiful moments of redemption and healing and humbly confess the devastating moments, and every time we are together, no matter how much they are battling with all of the hurt and brokenness that comes with raising children of trauma, they are able and willing to praise God and give thanks for the children He purposefully placed in their families. And I stand in awe of them.

Now, the Lord is calling our family to join them. Babies - birth parents - social workers ... we have no idea with whom or how the Lord plans to use us in this world of foster care, but His calling was clear. And we had to respond. 
As soon as we said, "Yes, Lord!" Dennis looked at me and said, "Hold on! It's going to be a bumpy ride!" And, boy, was he RIGHT. Though we have not experienced a tenth of what other families have endured in the foster care/adoption process, the road is not newly paved, and we have needed to remind each other of the "why" so we do not give up before the going actually gets tough.

Even better? Realizing that we are not alone in this adventure. The Lord does not call His people to His work and then abandon them in the work. He is there - a very present help - day in and day out. And then, after providing Himself, He sends others to join in the work! Encouragement, prayer, wisdom, advice, financial support, supplies, contacts, shared passion ... there is no end to the ways He uses the body of Christ to "stir one another up to love and good deeds." Which brings me to the origin of this post.

Yesterday, we received an unexpected gift in the mail with this note:
Dennis and Michelle,
Long ago my parents, your grandparents, started a tradition of saving coins and putting them into a rubber squeaky toy. When the grandchildren came for a visit, one would have the delight to receive this toy. This continued until the last one received their turn. They kept saving coins and putting them in the toy but didn't give it to anyone. 
When I was cleaning out their home after selling it, I found and kept that toy with its contents not knowing what I would do with it. Also, during said time, while cleaning out your father's bedroom (Dennis' birth father, Jack), I came across more coins in bags and jars. So, in honor of the tradition, I am sending these coins to go toward your fund for foster care. I don't know how much it is, but hope it helps. Love, Aunt Jerri

You can imagine our delight with such a thoughtful and sentimental gift. How sweet it would have been if Grandma and Grandpa Bold and Jack could have known where their saved coins were going. I cannot help but think that Grandma would have smiled with tears in her eyes, and Jack would have grinned his endearing "Jack grin." ❤ Thank you, Aunt Jerri, for such a precious gift. ❤

Dennis' sister Denise has been our loudest cheerleader since the day we announced our news about surrendering to foster care/adoption. Like Dennis, she was in foster care as an infant until Mom and Dad Eastman took her home, so this ministry is near and dear to her heart.
Every Christmas her birth-siblings draw names for a gift exchange, and in addition to a gift, Denise donates money to a charity/group/person that is meaningful to that sibling, in their name.
After a quick visit with Dennis right before Christmas, Denise sent him home with an envelope and told us to read it together. We were stunned to discover she had chosen our family to receive her donation!
She included a copy of her letter to her sibling in our card, and melted my heart with these words, "I know how important this is to your family and I don't want you to get discouraged."
♥You are amazing, Denise, and we love you.♥

Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow. James 1:17

A fantastic finish to our Bird Study!


As we wrap up our ornithology unit, I wanted to find birds we could interact with in real life. 
After a short internet search, the option presented itself - 🦜Exotic Bird Stores! 🦜

The self-guided field trip was fanTAStic! The birds were out in the open to observe and the staff was friendly, helpful, and overflowing with information about each one.
We were allowed to hold them, talk to them, feed them, and dance with them! (Yep, I said DANCE!)

Visiting a bird store never occurred to me, but I have to say - I enjoyed the visit far more than my children and laughed the entire time! SO.MUCH.FUN!



Isaiah and Ellie preferred the smaller birds. And they were thrilled to be able to hold them!





Interesting note about this bird: The coloring of this Macaw cannot be found in the wild because ... it was man-created by breeding red Macaws with yellow Macaws. They call it a "hybrid." The photo does not do the colors justice. She was STUNNING in real life!


I worked hard to earn the affection of this Grey Parrot named "Max."
He only likes old women and blondes, so the manager warned me that my efforts would probably not pay off. I was persistent because he was funny and had a unique personality. When I talked to him, he just stared at me, acting unmoved by my wooings. The second I turned away from him, however, he would call out, "Hello!" or start clicking his tongue to get my attention.
Finally, I was rewarded when he bowed his head and scratched his neck with his talons inviting me to pet him. Yes! SUCCES! The manager stopped and said, “Wow! He doesn’t let ANYone touch him!”
Who knows, maybe when my kids are grown and gone I will become a bird whisperer! πŸ˜‚πŸ¦œπŸ™ƒπŸ¦‰πŸ€£πŸ¦…

Interacting with God's creation is a DELIGHT!

1.09.2019

A Creation Classroom!


We all needed to get outside in the wide, open, beautiful spaces of Creation today.
We didn't realize how much we needed to do so until our toes were wriggling in the sand and the sound of waves were crashing all around us. The weather was gorgeous and we soaked up every ounce of sun and walked and played and read and worked until we had to force ourselves to return home.
It was a fanTAStic homeschooling day!












We do read-alouds every day (the Bible and poetry) and today, while fighting to be heard over the sound of the waves while reading, I was inspired by a scene from the film The Great Debaters.
We had a short lesson about enunciation and projection when speaking publicly, and then I had Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie sit on the rocks closest to the breaking waves to read their poems.
At first, they saw absolutely no point or benefit in the exercise. Once they tried reading loud enough to be heard over the noise of the waves and squawking seagulls, however; they understood!
Nature really IS an excellent classroom!





1.08.2019

Adoption + Foster Care + Special Needs = A Night of BEAUTY!


It's HAPPENING!
Beth and I filmed our video announcement for our event!

Our Special Needs ministry and our Orphan Care ministry are linking arms to highlight the focus of both ministries and, more importantly, highlight the God who moves the hearts of men and women across the world to answer the call and meet the needs of the neglected, forgotten, and ignored.

Our desire is to emphasize the importance of adoption and foster care
and
celebrate the truth that EVERY life is precious in the sight of God.

The Drop Box documentary
Wednesday night, January 23rd, 7:00 pm
Kindred Community Church sanctuary

You will be challenged,
convicted,
and moved to tears
while observing the faithfulness of Pastor Lee who uses his one life to change the lives of many.

Because the Lord used The Drop Box to fully surrender our family to adoption and foster care, my prayer is that He will call others to this same battlefield after witnessing the extraordinary commitment and devotion of a man who saw an overwhelming need and responded, "Here am I, Lord. Send ME!"
May we follow Pastor Lee's example and prayerfully consider how we can make a difference in the lives of the 500,000+ children who need to know they are precious in the sight of God.

Ignorance is bliss, but awareness is accountability.

We cannot do EVERYthing, but we can do SOMEthing.

We hope you will join us for this inspiring event.

12.21.2018

A promise worth flying for!


Today I made good on a promise I made to this young man when he was 10 years old.
He was obsessed with planes of every kind as a child (I met him when he was five years old), reading about them, watching videos about them, talking about them. Then one day, the passion turned from wanting to know about planes to wanting to be the pilot of the planes.
He worked diligently and faithfully to earn his pilot's license, and once he had it
he looked at me and asked, "So, are you ready to fly with me?"
I was thrilled that he remembered my promise - and - that he wanted me to fulfill it.
My answer, of course, was "YES! YES! YES!"
So today we flew into the wild blue yonder ... TOGETHER.





Drake does not like having his photo taken, but since he adores me (HA!) he willingly acquiesced to all of my photographic wants. When I asked for the obligatory cockpit/headphone shot I said,
"Thank you for tolerating my photo needs!"
Without missing a beat, and in true Drake Dusterhoft fashion, he responded,
"Oh, I've been tolerating you for YEARS!"
QUOTE - OF - THE - DAY.



Drake, thank you for today!
I remember meeting you as a little boy with your blonde hair, blue eyes, and the hint of mischief always twinkling inside of them. You were sweet, adventurous, quick to laugh, and respectful.
You and I have always clicked. As a little boy, you didn't like to be touched, and because I knew that I would purposely chase you down, pick you up, swing you around, and hug and tickle you while you laughed and laughed. You never told me to put you down, and your mom would say, "He doesn't let ANYbody do that!" And we have been teasing and annoying each other ever since! <grin>
And now, here you are, twenty years old, an EMT and a pilot - and I am proud of you.
You worked diligently, faithfully, and sacrificed to get where you are, Drake.
You are a terrific pilot and I loved flying with you today!
Thank you for letting me be a part of your new world. Mrs. E