12.17.2017

Look UP - and be encouraged.

Sometimes, on difficult days, we need to realign our focus - on Christ.
Are you troubled? Look to Jesus!
Are you weary? Look to Jesus!
Are you overwhelmed? Look to Jesus!
For nowhere else can you find the grace, mercy, and comfort you so desperately crave.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Hebrews 12:1, 2

Today, the Lord used music to minister to my heart, and it was exactly what I needed.
I pray others will find encouragement in the words of this wonderful hymn.

"Be Thou My Vision"

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

12.15.2017

This and that.

It's Friday!
After a long week of all eight Eastmans suffering from a wicked head cold, we are ready for a weekend of health and FUN! And a few naps would be greatly enjoyed as well. Thankfully, with a light schedule and plenty of hours in each day, we will be able to enjoy both rest and fun.
Not much was accomplished this week, but the Lord graciously allowed me to "let go" so I would not beat myself up for the lack of schooling or anything else that is usually completed during the week. We used the downtime to enjoy dozens of hours of audiobooks, snuggling in blankets, and watching good movies - together. We may not have learned new details about leaders in ancient Egypt or how to subtract by hundreds, but we enjoyed each other - and it was good.

Three hours of Sunday night was spent in laughter!
I spent the evening with my teen boys and some friends laughing until we cried with John Crist. He is HYSTERICAL. Edgy - pushing the envelope at times - but he knows it, he owns it, and makes everyone laugh in the process.
My friend Gina is nine months pregnant, so we were hoping she would go into labor from all of the laughter contractions, but alas, she is still waiting for that child to arrive.
Danielle entertains us every time we are together, and she dives right into ridiculous conversations with my boys. I love listening to them!
Joann was on a date with her groom but left him to talk to me and snap a photo. Sunday was such a fun night!

Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie wanted to make sugar cookies for Christmas (the teens could not care less), so we pulled out the ingredients and baked away on Thursday.
We had a great time!
They worked together without fighting over who got the rolling pin next, and we produced 72 delectable treats for the family. Well done, guys!
Of course, we cannot share them since they are most likely diseased from our colds, but hey, we did it!

We had the privilege of joining some dear friends to celebrate their ♥25th wedding anniversary!♥
We ate dinner together and then attempted to capture some memorable photos of the occasion. And they are memorable alright! We joked that the top photo looks like a bad album cover. Large heads, tiny heads - we are all over the place!
But none of that mattered because we were there for one reason ... to honor a couple who have faithfully walked beside one another richer and poorer, sick and healthy, and in trials and triumphs - for 25 years.
We love you, John & Denise, and we praise God for the example you model for your children, and for the world through your joyful obedience to the God who has given you everything. ♥

I absolutely LOVE nativity sets!
When Dennis travels, he works hard to find one for me, even in the most obscure places.
These are three of my favorites.
The nativity in the top photo is from Africa. The brightly colored clothing makes me smile.
The lower left nativity is from Thailand. Beautiful ceramic pieces. I like that the designer made a thatched roof, just like the homes in Thailand.
The nativity on the bottom right if from Cambodia. The entire scene made out of paper! The pieces are tiny, no more than two inches high, yet the detail is wonderful. The sheep are my favorite.
Thank you, Dennis, for bringing these pieces of joy home from your travels! I will enjoy them every Christmas and cherish them always.

Aaand, here is Charlotte!
I am not sure why, but every time I see her in this position, I laugh.
Those huge FEET! I love them!
She is still a highlight of the day for Isaiah and Ellie. They release her from the cage each morning, hunt for her several times a day to hold her and call her like a dog as if she will come running even though they know she will not respond.
She is a sweet animal.
She has freedom in the house as she hops in and out at will, sniffing the fireplace for treats, looking for attention from humans, and constantly finding new hiding places which take several minutes of searching to discover.
In short - we like Charlotte!
Thank you for sharing her with us, Karen! Or should I thank BRETT?

~~~ I am not sure how your week went ... according to all you had planned, or filled with unexpected and possibly unpleasant surprises ... but I pray that in the middle of all that happened, you were able to trace the hand of God throughout and praise Him for being a God who promises He will never leave you or forsake you. We may not always "feel" His presence, but He is THERE. Ever faithful. Ever true. On the mountaintops when we feel joy unspeakable - and when we are in the lowest of valleys wondering if we will ever find our way back into the light ... He is there. He is God. And He is GOOD.
May this Psalm be the cry of our own hearts:
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name;
make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
tell of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
seek His presence continually! Psalm 105:1-4

12.14.2017

A life worth emulating.


R.C. Sproul was, as the British would say, a man in full. He never made a half-argument, presented a half-correction, preached a half-sermon, or laughed a half-laugh. He was all in, all the time. His voice would fill the room, his preaching would shake the timbers, and his passion would spread like a virus. He showed up as everything he was and with everything he believed – every time. - Albert Mohler

What a fantastic tribute to a faithful and godly man.
May we, as believers, be "all in, all the time" for the sake of the Gospel.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Psalm 116:15

12.13.2017

Joy - Joy - JOY!

Psalm 33:1

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. (NIV)

Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise Him. (NLT)

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. (ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. (KJV)

Do you remember the song "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" that was popular in the 80's? The lyrics of that song play through my mind when I read the verse above.
🎢 Sing your praise to the Lord
Come on everybody 🎢
Stand up and sing one more hallelujah
🎢 Give your praise to the Lord
I can never tell you
Just how much good that it's gonna do you 🎢

I have been thinking about this verse for the past couple of weeks. It is joy-filled and sweet. But it requires action. Intentionality.
Sing!
Shout!
Rejoice!
We must choose to do these things.
And it would be fair to say that the desire to sing, shout, and rejoice would bubble out of a heart that is overflowing with joy, wouldn't it? Discontented unhappy hearts do not provide a catalyst for rejoicing. A joyful heart produces music.

This reminds me of another song!
🎢 I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Where?
Down in my heart!
Where?
Down in my heart!
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart 🎡
Down in my heart to stay
🎢 And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart 🎢
And I'm so happy
So very happy
🎡 I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

What song is in your heart today?

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:1, 2

12.11.2017

Monday Morning Encouragement!

After waking up with all of the aches and pains of a severe head cold after spending a wonderful night laughing with my older boys and friends at a comedy concert, I needed to read this!
The cold has taken out four Eastmans, so there are only four to go should the Lord not spare the rest.
My plan was not to begin the week with illness, but the Lord can redeem the hours and use them for good!
It seems He keeps providing opportunities for me to choose between joy and despair, and this writing by Susanna Spurgeon was just what I needed to push me over to the side of JOY.
Thank You, Lord! May my actions and words show evidence of my choice. 

                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You!" Jeremiah 32:17

"Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?"Jeremiah 32:26-27


Dear reader, your difficulties and trials may not be similar to those of "the weeping prophet" - but they are very real, and seemingly insurmountable to you. It is a fact that, of yourself, you can neither overcome nor endure them. So I want to remind you that the Lord's hand is not shortened - that what was true of His power in Jeremiah's time, is as certainly true today. Whatever present hardship may press upon you, or whatever burden may be weighing you down - you, yes,you may look up to Him with confident faith, and say, "There is nothing too hard for You!"

Oh, the blessed peace which such an assurance brings! I do not know what your particular sorrow or hardship may be - but I do know that whatever its nature - cruel, or bitter, or hopeless - it is as "nothing" to Him! He is able to deliver you - as easily as you can call upon Him for support and help.

Now, dear friend, think of all the hard things there are in your life:
poor circumstances,
difficult duties,
grievous pains,
sore struggles,
bitter disappointments,
harsh words,
sinful thoughts,
a hard heart of your own,
a hard heart in others.
Gather all these, and many more together, and pile them one on another until you have one great mountain of afflictions - and your God still calmly asks the question: "Is there anything too hard for Me?"

When our hearts are weary of life's cares and crosses, when our courage flags because of our helplessness, and we cry out with the patriarch, "All these things are against me!" - then what a support and stronghold is the fact that our God has all power in heaven and on earth! There is nothing too mighty for Him to manage - there is nothing too insignificant to escape His notice! Jeremiah's faith . . .
sees no obstacles,
stumbles at no hindrances,
faints under no burden,
shrinks from no responsibilities
- because he realizes the sublime Omnipotence of God, and fortifies himself by calling to remembrance His "outstretched arm" in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Cannot we do likewise?

Never let us give up in despair, while we have such a God to trust in. If there is a great mountain of sorrow or difficulty in your way, dear friend - do not be cast down by the darkness of its shadow. Your God can either make a way for you through it - or He can guide you around it - or, just as easily, He can carry you right over it! There is nothing too hard for Him! Expect Him to make the crooked things straight, and to bring the high things low. And while you keep humbly at His feet, He will work wondrously, and you shall see His salvation!

~ Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898

12.10.2017

This and that.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a child was receiving a new ornament every year from my grandmother. We would open them on Christmas Eve so we could enjoy looking at them on the tree Christmas Day.
My grandmother told us, "When you move out or get married, you will have enough ornaments to decorate your own Christmas tree!" And she was right!
When Micah was born I asked my mom and Mom Eastman if they would carry on the tradition, and they have done so faithfully year after year.
I love watching my kids hunt for "their ornaments" when it is time to decorate the tree and see their smiles as the memories play through their minds.

Two years ago I had the privilege of witnessing this sweet young woman say, "I Do!" to her beloved Nathan, and absorb their palpable JOY as they danced and laughed and shared their hearts with their guests at their wedding reception.
Last week, I had the privilege of rejoicing with my sister once again because ...
Angela and Nathan are becoming foster/adoptive PARENTS!
How exciting it is to watch them step out in faith and respond obediently to what the Lord has so clearly called them to do - "visit orphans in their distress."
She and Nathan have already been welcomed into our Orphan Care ministry and I am confident they will give as much encouragement as they receive!
I love you, Angela, and will always be thankful that the Lord drew us together "for such a time as this," through discipleship first, and then - as friends.

Caleb and Isaiah are the third and fourth Eastman children to acquire reading glasses.
I think the prescription barely surpasses that of over-the-counter specs, but it is enough to take away the blur on the page and the reading fatigue they both experience.
Thankfully, all of our boys thought it was "cool" to get glasses which makes the process quite easy.
Lookin' good, guys!

Today marks Day 10 of "50 Days of Dennis" in honor of his 50 years of life!
Thus far he has been gifted a fantastic steak dinner accompanied by an evening of great conversation and laughter with friends, thoughtful letters of appreciation,
fun gifts, gift cards to some of his favorite eating places,
homemade chocolate chip cookies, and 50 cans of Kerns Guava Nectar, or as he calls it, "the nectar of the gods."
This particular gift was delivered while he was teaching, so when he found them we heard, "WooHOO!" and he walked back out with a can in his hand, smiling from ear to ear.
My favorite part was the dividers between the cans. Julie wrote Dennis' life mantras on them with a personal note attached to each.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE. 
Begin with the end in mind.
Be a trier, not a cryer.
Act like what you do matters because it DOES!
Win the moment.

Yesterday, I had the joy of spending the morning with my best friend from JUNIOR HIGH! We met at a restaurant and the second we saw each other we embraced in a hug that lasted forever.
How I have missed her!
We spent three hours talking without one pause in the conversation - and it was wonderful.
Desi and I have a long and full history together, and now the Lord has brought us back together 33 years later "for such a time as this," and I cannot wait to see what He has planned for us as sisters in Christ - and as FRIENDS. 

~~~ Merry Sunday, everyone!
I hope you have a wonderful week waiting for you, and will have many opportunities to share the beauty and truth of Christmas with those around you.
"For God so loved the world HE GAVE His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

12.07.2017

To my foster and adoptive sisters ...


Dear sisters,
This afternoon I spent two hours in a foster care facility.
I knew what I was walking into, I knew why I was there, and yet the moment my foot crossed the
threshold of the building, my eyes filled with tears. I held it together, for it was not the time or place to fall apart, and I wanted to absorb every detail I saw and heard so I wouldn't forget.
And for the first time - I got it.
What you do. Who you serve. Why you do it.
Why you say “yes" even when it is too much, when you are overwhelmed, and when you have nothing left to give. I witnessed the same attitude of selflessness and compassion in the staff and counselors who serve these children and teens. They are honest about the hard work and the struggles, but they choose to go back day after day. Because they love the kids.
Just as you choose to love your children day after day. Especially the broken ones.
The home inspections. The court dates. The visitations. The therapy appointments. You do ALL of it because it needs to be done, it must be done in order to rescue these kids. And you do it well.
Thank you for your example of obedience.
Thank you for your faithfulness.
Thank you for your passion.
I returned home from the foster care facility, walked straight into my bedroom, closed my door - and wept.
There is just too much brokenness. Too many children without a home. Without safety. Without love.
And each one of you is standing in the gap, fighting for these children - by choice.
Thank you.
I will never forget what I saw, what I heard, or the emotions I felt as I walked through every room of the facility and met the children and teens in each of the group homes. And the whole time - I thought of you.
I once said there is nothing I have to offer you since I am not a part of the foster/adoptive world, and you responded, "You may not know the details of the system, but you do have something to offer us, Michelle - yourself." I believed you. I knew what you meant. But today - I understood. I don't know how to file paperwork with social services, prepare kids for a visit with birth parents, or decode court language, but there are things I do know.
I know I respect you.
Appreciate you.
Value you.
Love you.
While the Lord has not placed a foster baby, child, or teen in the Eastman home <yet>, He has given me YOU. Women who choose not only to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves," but women who allow me to walk beside them, and call me "friend." You don't need me to tell you how to foster or adopt; you need me to encourage you, pray for you, cheer for you, and remind you on the most discouraging days that you are acting as the hands and feet of Jesus every single time you serve these children.
Though I will never forget what I experienced today, I do not need to tour a foster care facility to see the Gospel in action. I need only look - at you.
With deep affection and a heart of gratitude, Michelle

12.05.2017

Suffering like Jesus.

For the past eleven weeks, I have been sitting under fantastic biblical instruction through a godly man Dennis and I greatly admire. The topic? Suffering. Why we suffer. How we suffer. How we are to respond to suffering. And most importantly, the model Jesus gave us through His own personal suffering.
This class has been an incredible blessing - a time of deep introspection - and a reminder that while God does not take us away from suffering, He faithfully takes us through it.
Sunday's class hit me in a tender spot, and while I left limping a bit, I was encouraged and strengthed by the words of this brother in Christ, and the truths and promises of God.
I pray these notes will encourage others the same way they encouraged me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1

No matter how stuck you feel - you are not alone!
The Lord is THERE!
He will never leave you or forsake you - and there is nothing too difficult for Him.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” Matthew 26:36-38
Jesus INVITES us into His suffering.
He invites us into an intimate relationship.
He did not have to take Peter and James and John with Him to the garden, but He did. 
He knew Peter was going to deny Him and all of the disciples would scatter in a matter of hours, yet He chose to include them in His sorrow.

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39
His EXAMPLE.
Jesus did not try to "fix" His problems.
He did the only thing that makes a difference. He fell on His face and prayed.
We need to work on our problems less and pray more.

Personal application ➙ What is my first response to difficult situations?
It should be PRAYER!
Faithful, enduring, persistent prayer.

Jesus prayed the same thing three times. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
And heaven was silent.
Jesus did not ask to be released from God's plan, He asked if there was another way.
God said, "This IS My way."
And Jesus surrendered. With perfect peace.

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6
Stop the preoccupation with "self" - even in the midst of great suffering and sorrow - and SEEK GOD.

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3
Stop putting hope in people, and things, and coping strategies and CRY OUT TO GOD.
He is huge and powerful and capable - and He INVITES US to ask Him for help.
An invitation from a holy God should not be ignored. 

Don't get stuck in your failures and inadequacies. Put ALL of your focus on Christ.
"I'm weak." "Yes. You are. Look to Jesus."
"I don't know enough." "No, you don't. Look to Jesus."
"I can't do much." "Do what you can. And look to Jesus."

"I fail, Lord." "I know. But I don't. Walk with Me."
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people.

He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself. 
For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:23-28

12.04.2017

How was YOUR Monday?

We had our whole day planned.
9:00 a.m.    Our G3 arrive
9:45 a.m.    Leave for the zoo
12-noon      Picnic at the park
2-3 p.m.      Play!

Our plan did not come to fruition, however.
Everyone was in the van securely buckled.
Me, three teenagers, and six children ready for an animal adventure at the zoo!
And then - the van would not start.

The ten of us exited the van, I sent the kids off with the teens to run and play in the front yard, and I called AAA.
A polite and jolly gentleman named Joseph pulled into our driveway 14 minutes later, ran a test on the battery, charged it, and said, "If you turn the motor off it will not start again. Drive straight to the dealer so they can run their own diagnostics and either charge your battery or replace it."
A Ford service center on a Monday at 10 a.m.? Seriously? With nine children in tow?
I thanked him and waved goodbye as he pulled away, and then stood in the middle of the driveway staring down the street as leaves from the trees blew through the sky like snowflakes, and thought, "You have a choice, Michelle. You can choose frustration and anger or you can choose JOY. This is not what you had planned, but it does not have to ruin the day. Choose wisely, because everyone else will follow your lead."
I took a deeeeeep breath, grabbed all of our loot, and piled everyone back into the van.

We pulled into the service center at the dealership, were kindly greeted by Victor, who took care of us immediately (and raised his eyebrows while eyeing the crowd in the back when I said I would wait for the van to be serviced), and then we poured out of the vehicle once again to invade the service center restroom and diminish their hot cocoa supply.
When we walked outside I spotted the Ford logo - and laughed. This was not the way I envisioned our day, but we could still make it fun!
I would have taken photos to chronicle our zoo adventure, so I decided to do the same for our "alternate adventure." Lions and bears or jumper cables and batteries - both are memories!

We walked half a mile to the cinema center nearby. Apparently, a group of ten walking humans draws the attention of drivers, which ended up serving us well since we had to use two major crosswalks each direction between the dealership and the theater.
The theater and most of the restaurants were not yet open, so I let the kids run and scream and play in the wide open spaces. They LOVED it!
We didn't know if we had a 45-minute wait or a 2-hour wait, so I needed a plan. Caleb checked the movie listings and lo and behold, the animated Christmas story was playing within the hour.
We ate lunch at a sandwich shop, crossed over to the cinema, and settled in for a delightful Christmas movie about the birth of our Lord. All of the little kids sat perfectly still without a sound the entire length of the movie and laughed in all the right places.
It was the best way to spend our 90 minutes of waiting!

Luke had already left us to walk the two miles home so he could finish homework before his work shift.
30 minutes into the movie, Micah snuck up behind me to tell me that upon arriving at our house, Luke sent him a text which read, "Hey - you forgot to put the hockey net away when we left, so someone took it. They thought it was left on the street for 'free.'"
Like salt - in - the - wound.
I shook my head, and thanked the Lord for the gift of grace.

And then - all was made right when we returned to retrieve the van and the clerk at the service desk uttered some of the most beautiful words in the English language,
"The repair was under warranty."

Happy Monday!

12.01.2017

50 Days of DENNIS!


On December 30th, Dennis will be 50 years old.
He is not a "birthday party" guy and we cannot send him to Australia for ten days of surfing (his dream), so we had to get creative when trying to figure out HOW to celebrate his 50 years of life.
Inspiration struck when the Lord reminded me that Dennis appreciates words of affirmation.

The result?
50 Days of Dennis!
We contacted family, his friends (as far back as childhood), and colleagues to invite them to participate in the celebration, and fifty people said, "YES! Count me in!"

Dennis was blown away when I presented our gift to him.
50 cards/letters/gifts/dates graciously given by people who appreciate and love him.
One surprise EVERY DAY for 50 days!
This is going to be SO much FUN! 

We love you, Dennis!
Happy 50th Birthday!

11.29.2017

HIS thoughts - HIS ways.


Every day I read this verse.
It is the first thing I see when I walk into our bedroom,
and I walk into our room at least twenty times each day.

No matter what I am struggling with, when my eyes fall upon this frame, 
the words of God squash every doubt, every fear, every frustration, and all delusions of control.
And I need this to be so.

Because truth be told, I like my own thoughts and my own ways.
They seem logical and right. They please me. And, I feel in control.
(I cannot prove it, but I think many eye-rolls take place in heaven when my name is mentioned!)

  And yet, God says that His thoughts are NOT my thoughts, and His ways are NOT my ways.
Our God has secrets. He is a God of mystery.
He does not need my permission, insight, or suggestions regarding His purposes and His ways.
What He requires is that when I don't understand what He is doing,
I will remember who He is ... and TRUST HIM.

My marriage,
my children,
my health,
education,
ministry,
relationships,
every detail of my life.
Each one must be surrendered to Him, day by day, hour by hour.

As much as I would like to be granted access to the secrets of God, He says, "No."
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," SAITH THE LORD.
And I need to be okay with that.
100%, fully satisfied and content, knowing that His ways are far better than my own.

Lord - make this so! Teach me to trust You quickly and completely, in all things.

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.
Proverbs 28:26

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5, 6

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3

11.27.2017

This and that.

Another Monday checked off in the books!
I like Mondays.
A quiet day at home for chores, school work, reading, and a relaxed evening without commitments.
Such a wonderful way to begin a new week!

We enjoyed our 10th annual Thanksgiving Flag Football game last week.
Now that most of the children are teenagers, we had a terrific turnout of eager participants ready to run, catch, throw, and score!
This year we had enough people for four teams. It was wonderful!
Every Thanksgiving morning,
8-10 a.m., rain or shine,
guys, girls, adults, teens, children,
Come one, come all!
A fun and festive family tradition we hope to enjoy for years to come!

This kid LOVES our rabbit.
He not only holds her every day, he will go search the yard and the garage until he finds her.
Isaiah has always had a way with animals, and Charlotte clearly senses it because she will settle down with him and let him hold her as long as he chooses.
I honestly never thought we would be a "rabbit family," but Charlotte has found her way into the hearts of (most of) the Eastmans.
Dennis delights in watching her hop about and interact with humans, Luke thinks she is adorable, Josiah finds her cute and fun, and Ellie and Isaiah fight over who holds her - every day. Micah and Caleb are ambivalent.
Every time I see her huge, fluffy feet I laugh, and I like that she can roam freely in our house without "messes" or mayhem. She is a joy!

After spending time with a few bibliophiles recently and listening to them talk about their recent "great finds," I got the itch to peruse our local used bookstore and our local dollar bookstore.
I have not been to either in a couple of years because, well, at some point you have to come to the reality that you simply cannot own EVERY good book ever written - for there are many!
Budget is a huge factor for us, which is another reason I avoid such delightful shops, because I know I will always find at least a dozen titles to add to our library. And this trip was no exception!
I was able to wander the aisles of the used bookstore alone one afternoon - what a treat! No rush, no children to appease or keep quiet ... just peace.
Note: I exhibited a great amount of self control by replacing at least ten vintage books before purchasing my favorite finds. (You're welcome, D!)
I was rewarded for said self control when I arrived at the $1 bookstore to find freshly stocked shelves FILLED to overflowing with literary goodness.
43 books for $37.00? Um, YES, PLEASE!

After putting out a, "WORK●WORK●WORK!" call on social media for Caleb to get jobs to earn money for Winter Camp, he received three offers the first day.
YES!
His first job was to clear brush at the home of a sweet couple in our church. The husband commended Caleb for being willing to do manual labor to earn money, then off they went to spend six hours in the great outdoors raking, shoveling, and sweating. I LOVE it!
Until Caleb is old enough to be hired for a "real job" he will earn all of his cash through odd jobs - and be better for it!

Making handmade bookmarks with their names written with the Egyptian alphabet was the project of the day after studying the life of Nefertiti.
Caleb is not as fascinated with ancient Egyptian life as Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie are, but he is a source of entertainment and inspiration when we are doing activities. They think he is hysterical and are thrilled when he participates in their school projects.
Thanks, Caleb! You add FUN to our lessons!

Aaaand then there is the not-so-attractive side of homeschooling.
Disobedience.
Bad attitudes.
Whining.
Complaining.
If you can run your MOUTHS, you can run your BODIES!
This morning's military routine (35 minutes into the start of the school day) looked like this:
-50 jumping jacks
-20 pushups
-40 squats
-30 Burpees
-30 second alternating Superman/banana
Rinse and Repeat - times FOUR!
Micah acted as the Resident Drill Sergeant for the day, and boy oh boy was he NOT appreciated by the recruits.
Well done, Micah!
Amazingly, I had attentive, cooperative, and joyful children for the rest of the school day. Go figure!

~~~ HAPPY MONDAY!
I hope you have a week filled with unexpected delights and sweet moments with people you love.
But more than anything else, I pray you will purposely plan to spend time with the One who created you and loves you best.
May this be what we aim for in the days ahead ...
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.
I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.
I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord,
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.
Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes.
But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.
Psalm 26

11.25.2017

Already encouraged, yet there is MORE to come!

After reading the last chapter of Jonathan Edward's biography last week, I felt I needed to take a break from reading for a bit. The book was 500 pages in length, each page filled with fantastic details about his life, his convictions, his passion, and the criticism and hatred of others because he was a man of conviction and passion. It was a wonderful read, and a challenging one, for many personal reasons. I continue to think of Jonathan, asking the Lord to make clear what He wants me to learn about Him - and about myself - through the life of such an extraordinary man.

My hiatus did not last long, however. After reading the Gospel of Matthew, I felt the desire to devour another biography. Scripture is enough on its own, there is simply no doubt, but there is something incredibly encouraging about being invited inside the minds of godly men and women who recorded the Lord's dealings with them so we might benefit from their personal lessons. Praise the Lord for their willingness to write them down!

Every book in my stack of unread biographies seemed appealing, but the Lord pushed my hand to select the one that chronicles the life of this man: Robert Murray M'Cheyne.
I knew absolutely nothing about him, but boy is he making his way into my affections quickly! I have only finished the first chapter, yet I feel as though I know this man - and understand him. The author records dozens of quotes from M'Cheyne's personal diary, but I think this entry paints a vivid picture of how He saw himself - and His God. (in his early years, age 20+)

"What a mass of corruption I have been! How great a portion of my life have I spent wholly without God in the world, given up to sense and the perishing things around me! Naturally of a feeling and sentimental disposition, how much of my religion has been, and to this day is, tinged with these colors of earth!
Restrained from open vice by educational views and the fear of man, how much ungodliness has reigned within me! How often has it broken through all restraints, and come out in the shape of lust and anger, mad ambitions, and unhallowed words! Though my vice was always refined, yet how subtle and how awfully prevalent it was!
How complete a test was the Sabbath - spent in weariness, as much of it was given to God's service! How I polluted it by my hypocrisies, my self-conceits, my worldly thoughts, and worldly friends!
How formally and unheedingly the Bible was read - how little was read - so little that even now I have not read it all!
How unboundedly was the wild impulse of the heart obeyed! How much more was the creature loved than the Creator! O great God, that didst suffer me to live whilst I so dishonored Thee, Thou knowest the whole; and it was Thy hand alone that could awaken me from the death in which I was, and was contented to be. Gladly would I have escaped from the Shepherd that sought me as I strayed; but He took me up in His arms and carried me back; and yet He took me not for anything that was in me. I was not more fit for His service than any man, and no more worthy to be called and chosen.
Yet why should I doubt? Nay, I come to Christ, not although I am a sinner, but just because I am a sinner, even the chief."
... still I believe that my soul is in sincerity desirous and earnest about having all its concerns at rest with God and Christ - that His kingdom occupies the most part of all my thoughts ...
As surely as Thou didst make the mouth with which I pray, so surely dost Thou prompt every prayer of faith which I utter. Thou hast made me all that I am, and given me all that I have."

Imagine what words will flow from his pen after he has walked with the Lord for another decade!
I am eager to learn how this man, who is granted but thirty years of life on earth, lives out his final days. I already find myself stirred up "to love and good deeds," and the Lord is not finished with him yet!

11.22.2017

My Favorite THANKSGIVING Family Tradition.


This is my favorite day of November - Thanksgiving Eve.
family night
engaging in a fun activity we can all enjoy
 eating dinner together
And the best part of the night ...
recording on paper why we appreciate/enjoy/love each other - and praying - by candlelight.

The entries are thoughtful, sweet, and fun, and each one reflects the heart, mind, and maturity of the writer. After we list the qualities we appreciate about each member of the family, Dennis and the older boys read all of the entries out loud. We laugh, respond, and enjoy the thoughts everyone offered, and then each of us shares our own personal list of the things for which we are thankful.

It is such a joy to see the change in the things the older boys write. What began as "Lego's" and "Nerf guns" when they were little has morphed into phrases like "the joy of family," "the wisdom and guidance of my father," and "the freedom to read the Bible and worship God." Thank You, Lord! 

I have no idea what God has planned for our family in the years to come, but I pray we will be blessed with many more Thanksgiving Eve's - TOGETHER. ❤

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Colossians 3:15-17

11.20.2017

There is only one place to look!

Jesus does not take us away from our suffering.
He gives us a way through it.

What is your perspective in pain?
How do you respond?
Where do you seek comfort?
To whom do you look for encouragement and hope?

May we always run to the Savior - fastest and first - dropping all of our sorrows, doubts, and fears at His feet so we may receive the forgiveness, grace, restoration, and rest we so desperately crave.

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

His word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

11.17.2017

Dennis, Biola, and Cambodia = Mutual Admiration and Affection.

People often ask, "What does Dennis DO when he travels to other countries?"
Well, here is a snapshot of how he and the Biola team spent their time in Cambodia! Enjoy!


The Khmer teachers at Asian Hope
This is the sixth year Dennis and his colleagues have traveled to Cambodia to train the Khmer teachers. Because of their consistent connection, the Biola team has enjoyed the privilege of witnessing the growth and maturity of these men and women as they increase in knowledge, understanding,
and practical application year after year.
The team loves that the conversation picks up right where it left off the year before and that every trip feels like a Family Reunion! When Dennis and his colleagues walked into the school last week, they were greeted with cheers and applause. "Biola is HERE!" These two groups clearly share an equal admiration and affection for one another - and it is precious.


Presentation Time!
The team spent four days, eight hours per day, training teachers.
The topics: Classroom Management and Student Engagement
They were thrilled to have a Biola Teacher Education graduate travel with them this year!
Bre (top right, holding paper) wanted to be part of the Biola Cambodia experience and Dennis said it was exciting to witness a former student using her skills to instruct the Khmer teachers.


When the electricity goes out in the middle of the training session, no problem!
Just move the class sessions outside!
90-degree heat with 80% humidity OUTside is cooler than no airflow INside!
#adaptandovercomeisthenameofthegame


 The Biola University School of Education TEAM!
Carolyn - Dennis - Carly - Kris - Bre


One of the many perks that accompany international travel - FOOD!
Coconut consumption is Cambodian treat and Dennis took full advantage of it.
How do they cut them open? With a machete, of course! Slice - insert straw - ENJOY!


The team spent a sobering, yet important day touring the Killing Fields and the Genocide Memorial in Phnom Penh. If we are not intentional about remembering - we will forget.


I love this photo and what it represents, including the entry Dennis wrote in his own hand.
A book dedicated to capturing the impact made on those who walk through the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. People from all over the world share their thoughts, in their own language, about a horrific part of Cambodian history. Not one person who walks the floors of this building can change what happened, but they can honor the memory of those who suffered within its walls.


Thank You, Lord, for creating a mutually-edifying relationship between the Biola School of Education team and the wonderful people of Asian Hope. You changed the heart of my husband during his first visit to Cambodia, and You continue to increase his empathy and compassion each time he returns. I pray You will continue to provide for the needs of the school and bless the obedience and sacrificial service of those who minister to the precious children with love and tenderness every single day. This ministry and these children are in Your hands, Father, and there is no better place they could possibly be.
We surrender them to Your care, and trust that Your will be done.

11.16.2017

Our leader is HOME!


Dennis was gone for ten days serving the administration, faculty, staff, and students in Cambodia.
We gladly share our fearless leader so that Dennis and his colleagues can train teachers to become excellent teachers - and - seek to help restore hope and joy to children who have been rescued from slavery.
What we love best, however, is that he and the team have countless opportunities to encourage and uplift the saints who sacrificially serve these children day after day.

Dennis uses the gifts God has given him to serve and bless others, and our children know it.
How thankful I am for his example!

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



The kids and I had lunch together on the last day we were alone together, and I asked them, 
"What do you miss most about your Dad when he is out of the country?"
Their responses:
Josiah - I miss his jokes. He is fun!
Isaiah - I miss everything about him.
Ellie - I miss him making me laugh and putting me to bed at night.
Caleb - I miss his general presence. I like being with him.
Luke - I miss his authority in the home. His absence is palpable.
Micah - I miss his energy and enthusiasm.

It is unanimous. We NEED Dennis! And we WANT him! ❤

11.15.2017

My THEME SONG for Motherhood.


"I Need Thee Every Hour"

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

11.14.2017

Morning - Noon - and Night.

I love that our God created men and women with the wonderful ability to pull solid truths from Scripture and arrange them into beautiful writings of poetry, quotes, and songs.
The truths do not change - just the delivery.
And for me, the more I hear the same truths repeated using different modalities, the more they sink in, and the better I remember.

This is one of those quotes!
It floated into my inbox several weeks ago and I was immediately encouraged and challenged by its content. I shared it with a few sisters in Christ, and it has been a topic of conversation more than once when we are discussing our walk with the Lord and our desire to seek Him in ALL things at ALL times.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for godly men and women who have penned their thoughts, convictions, and how the Lord comforts and sustains them so we might be inspired to press on in our own personal walk with the Savior.

May this quote encourage your heart today!

****************************************************

"But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress - and He hears my voice!" Psalm 55:16-17

The well-taught Christian carries everything to God - and in so doing, obtains relief, enjoys peace, and grows in grace.
For all that we need - we should call upon God.
And from all that we fear - we should flee unto God.
At the close of every day, it is our mercy to call upon the Lord.
We must make confession of sin - and obtain pardon.
We must carry to Him our burdens - and obtain relief.
We must tell Him our needs - and obtain a supply.

Oh, how precious it is to go to the Lord at the close of each day, and tell Him all that has . . .
vexed us,
grieved us,
cast us down, or
disquieted our spirits!

And how blessed to go to Him each morning, and seek grace to live holily and happily through the day!

Nor is it less blessed to have a few minutes with God at noon - breaking, as it were, the day in two, and keeping short accounts with God.

O for a spirit of habitual prayer, that at evening, and at morning, and at noon we may pray, and cry aloud to God!

If we were more with the Lord in prayer, we would have . . .
more strength to carry our crosses,
more patience to bear our troubles,
and more comfort amidst life's sorrows.

(James Smith, 1859)

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
Psalm 62:8

11.13.2017

Inspiration and Strength!

Our Sunday sermon was a great encouragement to me.
I share my notes and personal reflections here with the hope they will encourage others as well.

The text:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1, 2

✲ The Encouragement Recorded
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,..."

- The author encourages the saints to run hard and run fast - BY FAITH - after reminding them of the faithful saints of the past.
By faith Abel
By faith Enoch
By faith Noah
By faith Abraham
By faith Sarah
By faith Isaac
By faith Jacob
By faith Joseph
By faith Moses
By faith Rahab
(Hebrews 11)

Remember them! And follow their example! Not because they were perfect, but because they pressed on in their imperfection - BY FAITH.

✲ The Encumbrance Rejected
"...let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,..."

As believers, we are challenged to remove every encumbrance, hindrance, and distraction so we can focus on what is important. Jesus Christ.
A sprinter does not race down the track wearing a jean jacket and cowboy boots, just as a marathon runner does not run 26.2 miles in a wetsuit and SCUBA gear. The weight would drag them down and exhaust them. As does the sin strapped to the back of the believer as she covers mile after mile in the race toward the prize of heaven.

Weight = Things that are not 'bad' but also not Best. Things that slow you down and distract you.
Believers must choose between what is good and what is best.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, Philippians 1:9, 10

Just because something isn't sin doesn't mean you should do it.
Can vs. Should
Which one pushes you to Christ?
Which one serves the Kingdom?
Which one minister to others?
What do we NEED to do in order to run the race with excellence?

It may not be 'evil' - but - is it ESSENTIAL?

Sin = Forbidden things. No need to discern what is good or best - because it is all sin!
Sin needs to be completely eliminated from the life of a believer.
-Are you aware of the sins that constantly ensnare you?
-Do you guard against those sins?

✲ The Endurance Required
"...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,..."

- The Christian life is a MARATHON, not a sprint!
- It is a grueling, agonizing trek through the world and all of the sin which dwells within it.
- It is a long, long race requiring daily running.

→ Endurance requires strenuous effort.
- Neglecting the disciplines of reading the Bible, praying, and meeting with the church body is NOT AN OPTION for the believer.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. I Corinthians 9: 24-27

Endurance is a singular effort. Though we run as a body, we are also run an individual race.
- Each of us has a specific calling that is to be pursued and obeyed.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
- Each of us was given specific spiritual gifts to be used within the body of believers.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. I Corinthians 12:4-7

We must not fall into the temptation to Compare and Despair. God sovereignly chose the details of your life, for a purpose, and for His glory. Be content with WHO YOU ARE. Obey your calling and exercise your gifts and you will find the race much easier to endure!

✲ The Example Recommended
"...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

- The author points to Jesus as the ultimate example of faith.
- Keep your eyes FIXED ON JESUS! HE is the prize! Not the world.
- He endured. He did not quit. He ran willingly. He ran obediently. He ran alone.

The Old Testament saints INSPIRE us, but Jesus STRENGTHENS us so we can run - all the way - without quitting - until the day we cross the finish line and are ushered into glory forevermore!

Lord, thank You for this fantastic passage in Scripture that reminds us that You have used weak, sinful men and women to accomplish Your will. You choose the weak so Your strength is more evident. What an encouragement this is to Your children when we look in the mirror and see flaw upon flaw, wondering if You can do ANYthing through us, or if You even want to. You never ask us to do something for You without giving us what we need to walk in faithful obedience, but like Moses, it is our focus on the flesh that keeps us from seeing the bigger picture. BUT GOD. We know You can do anything, but we allow the weaknesses and failings and disappointments of men distract us from this truth. You do not need us to accomplish Your will, but You choose to use us - as we are - because it is Your power that works within us to achieve Your purposes and plans. Thank You for this truth, Lord! Thank You for pouring new mercies on us each morning, showing us grace day by day, and strengthening us so we can be obedient to the calling You place on us. We obey because we love You, and we can only do so because You loved us first. And best.

Quote.

Do you want to hear God speak? Read your Bible out loud.
- John Piper

11.11.2017

Dennis writes a letter to his sons.

As is his practice when he is serving in different parts of the world, Dennis wrote a letter to our sons today. These letters will be kept forever, and hopefully cherished by all of our children. I share this one because it is applicable to all of us, and provides a glimpse into the heart and mind of my husband. People often see one side of this man, but like many wonderful men, his family sees and knows much more.
I pray you will be encouraged by his words.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greetings My Sons,

Working in an Emergency Room is a five senses kind of job. To be sure there is much to see (I once saw an “entry/exit” gun shot wound through the forearm. When irrigating the wound, the water went in one side and came out the other much like you would see in a cartoon.), hear (crying/screaming children, this is a given, and non-stop for hours upon hours), touch (bodies, blood, bile, pus, etc.), smell (the smells are quite memorable), and, yes…taste (thankfully, not often). Regardless of the senses involved, during the course of a twelve-hour night shift there is a strong possibility some form of adventure will unfold.

One evening we had a patient, an elderly man, who was experiencing the five senses of illness. This poor guy was in bad shape. Raging fever, loss of bowel control, vomiting…you get the picture. A nurse was prepping the patient for the doctor when the man turned his head to the side and vomited on the floor. As the nurse called for someone to clean up the soiled floor, a man walked in wearing a golf shirt and casual pants. He grabbed a towel from underneath the counter and wiped up the vomit. He then placed the towel in the dirty linen hamper and asked the nurse, “What are we waiting for with this patient?” She replied, “The doctor.” Without missing a beat, the man stepped forward and said, “Hello sir, my name is Dr. Rosing, what can I do for you this evening?” This was his first shift on his first night at our ER. What a great introduction to Dr. Keith Rosing!

My point this week…SERVE! I know, I know, you have heard this story. “If you want to be a leader, serve”. Blah, blah, blah…

Please give a fresh effort to listen to what I am saying. Service comes in many forms and functions. When the sun is shining and friends are going down to the beach to pick up trash in the name of Jesus - I am in! When we are driving over to drop off groceries for a popular cause that everyone deems worthy and necessary, and it does not cut into my free time - Absolutely, count me in! However, there are times when serving is not convenient with my schedule (during a sporting event, scheduled free time, or a preferred activity), or the task to be completed is not considered conducive to my opinion of acceptability (interacting with certain members of the family, a task that takes more than 30 minutes, doing an unassigned chore, etc.).

The fact is, I am a selective service type of human. My service is often self-determined by a list of “ifs” rather than complete surrender to what, where, and when God is moving me to action. Please consider an example.
There is a couple in Cambodia, Scott and Helen, who have moved here with the intent of serving in the international school. Scott teaches math and Helen is the secondary principal. They have two wonderful young children. During dinner one evening, I asked them where they were attending church in Cambodia. Scott replied, “We attend a Khmer church plant in Phnom Penh.” I then asked, if he understood what the pastor was saying and he said, “No. I get a little bit of the sermon but for the most part, I do not understand the message.” I laughed and said, "You are attending a church where you don’t know what the pastor is saying?” Without hesitation, Scott smiled and said, “It is more about serving than anything else. We attend a morning service in English and then an afternoon service in Khmer. I figure that is why we are here.”

Admittedly, his reply humbled me. This family came to Cambodia to be all in. Including attending a church in which the language remains unknown, save a few words here and there. And, they are making a significant difference where God has planted them. Few people will ever know their story and their daily sacrifices, yet they are people who recognize that GOD is the one who has directed their steps and he will lead them to the next endeavor.

Gentlemen, God's work has never been measured by the difficulty of the task but is often accomplished due to the availability of the servant. There are numerous excuses and reasons available as to why someone else should do the “heavy lifting” of serving others. It reminds me of the quote by Chuck Swindoll, “The trouble with the Christian life is that it is so daily.” There is always some reason (personal preference, desire, lint on my clothing) that will keep me from serving.

The LORD often provides amazing “God moments” that look very much like everyday service to others.

Though mission trips, youth events, and training teachers Cambodia are fun and worthy ways of serving, it is the common elements of daily events where we truly learn to serve. Let’s you and I learn to be Christian men who serve. Daily.

Love,
Dad