Am I walking the right way?

As I laced up my running shoes to prepare for a long walk with a friend, I began to wonder.
How many times have I put on my shoes with the intent to walk, only to take them off again because I didn't "feel" like walking?
How many times have I seen my shoes sitting on the floor of the closet, knowing I should put them on and move my body, but refused to do so because I was "too tired," "not in the mood," or just didn't care?
How many times have I sat sedentary when I should have been active?
And how many times have I lamented my big buns, poor health, and fatigue - all of which were a direct result of not lacing up my shoes?
<deep sigh>
Too many times, friends. Too many times.

And like most things in life, there is a spiritual application laced within the lesson.

As Christians, we are called to "walk in a manner worthy of God."
Time for another deep sigh.
Not only do many of the footprints of my spiritual walk lack the holiness of God, they aren't even in a straight line. They are up, down, sideways, and on the ceiling! Perfect evidence that I have relied on my own way and my own will far too often, failing to follow the purposeful path laid out by a Savior who knows exactly where I need to place each step.

How sweet life would be, how much easier the climb, how effortless the journey if we intentionally and obediently placed our feet in the footprints left for us by the Savior! 
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23
Our steps, no matter how well-intentioned, are tainted with selfishness and sin. We want to follow Christ, but our feet turn to the left and the right when something alluring catches our eye. We step off of the path "for just a second" only to stumble into weeds and ditches and detours that take us further than we wanted to go and keep us longer than we wanted to stay.

The sure, straight, steady way of the Master may seem dull in comparison to the glittering temptations that line the road, but it is the easiest, fastest, and shortest route to our destination. 
HIS steps.
HIS way.
HIS course.
HIS stride.
If we follow Him, our feet will always take us to the only place we need to be.
Safe and secure at the Master's side.

Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord - so walk in Him. Colossians 2:6

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

I Thessalonians 2:11, 12

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.

I Thessalonians 4:1



When my sister-in-law watched me pick up Orion in order to calm him down, she declared, “Michelle! You are holding a DOG! We have GOT to get you some BABIES!”
And she is right!
As much as I enjoy this canine companion, I am so so SO ready to hold tiny humans again.
But for now - I will happily walk alongside Luke as we train (and hold) this pup - together. 💙


Another Wonderful Wednesday!

Another Wonderful Wednesday!
- fresh air
- sunshine
- green trees
- luscious lawns
- a flowing stream
- ducks, birds, squirrels
- tasty treats 
- friends
A delightful way to enjoy a beautiful spring day! 🌳☀️🦆🌲🦋


A Super FUN Sunday!

We registered for the babies the Lord will bring into our home!

My sister-in-law suggested it, one of my close friends encouraged it, and a dear friend
(and mother of an adopted baby) commanded it. ;o) So - we obeyed!
And had a blast. Well, Ellie and I had a blast! The men/boys tolerated it well and entertained each other while Ellie and I oohed and aahed over all of the fun items. 

It's a little tricky registering when you don't know if you will welcome a 2-week-old infant or a nine-month-old crawler, a boy or a girl, a healthy or a sick baby, so we did our best to prepare for any and every possible scenario. 

I cannot speak for the rest of the Eastmans, but today's outing made it all seem very VERY real. We were not registering for fun, though we enjoyed every minute. We were registering because the babies who come to us arrive with nothing - but need everything.

And yet, as helpful and purposeful as burp cloths and crib sheets and strollers are in baby land, the thing the babies will need most - is love. Praise God that LOVE is always available and always free!

(Note: not one picture has everyone smiling or looking at the camera,
so I included them all because together they capture the mood of the day!) 


An anniversary of surrender!

It crossed my mind the other day that the Lord called us to surrender our family to orphan care sometime in the spring, so I popped on the blog and VOILA! There it was! The entry of our surrender story dated March 19, 2016.
How encouraged I was to read this again!
We had no idea where God would lead us, or what it would look like when we got there, but we knew we had to follow. And now, after three years of being welcomed into the lives of other foster and adoptive families, we get to become one!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:1-2

The Lord is making us uncomfortable - and it is GOOD! (March 19, 2016)

Two weeks ago we received our quarterly report from the missionary we support in India. I usually glance through the letter for new or highlighted details, but for some reason, I felt compelled to read every word in this particular letter.
It gave the usual updates and then announced an exciting new ministry. A group of believers is now serving in a leper colony. They clean wounds, cook meals and bathe the people afflicted with this disease.
I stood in my kitchen with the letter in my hands - stunned. Lepers! They are washing the wounds of lepers!
What did I do today?!?

Dennis returned late that same night and while he was shaving I sat on the bed and asked him, "What did YOU do today?" He listed a few items and I asked, "Do you want to know what OTHER people were doing?" I read our missions letter.
He dropped his head back and groaned, "Do you want us to move to a leper colony, Michelle?" (He is used to these conversations if you didn't already guess.)
"No. But I am asking ... how are we using OUR free time to enlarge the Kingdom? How are we serving 'the least of these?' How many people know Jesus - because they know the Eastmans?"
Silence. From both of us.

The following evening we called a family meeting with the older boys, shared the same story, and asked the same question.
We spent an hour discussing our family life.
We are a family of eight able-bodied people who could do so many things using the skills and passions the Lord has placed in each of us, yet every one of us squanders, at least, two hours per day. At best, time is spent on self rather than others. At worst, the time is completely unredeemable because the activities are worthless.
We asked the boys to think about their skills and interests because children and teens do not need to wait until they are adults to change the world for Jesus Christ. They can serve Him now. Right where they are. We challenged them to think about what can they do to serve others and affect eternity - today - at the age of 16, 14, and 12. "Do not let anyone look down on you because of your youth."

We talked about our family motto:
Soldiers for Christ.
Protect the Innocent
Defend the Weak
Fight the enemy
Stand firm in the faith
"He has shown thee, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

It sounds great.
Are we LIVING it?!?

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2

We agreed to pray as individuals and come back together to continue the conversation.

Fast forward a week.
I sat in a chair with my toes in the sand while listening to a dear sister share her struggles and sorrows, her victories and joys.
As I listened, my discomfort grew.
Have I served her? Have I been a faithful friend?
Lord, You have been stirring me up to do MORE. Our family is healthy and strong and able to serve, but no opportunity has presented itself.
Now, here I am, looking into the eyes of a hurting, desperate friend who happens to have three rescued orphans living in her home, and right now this family needs a life ring the size of Kansas.
Is this who You want us to serve? Is this who we have been waiting for?

I graciously interrupted my friend and asked if I could tell her our story. When I finished, I looked her in the eyes and said, "You are our lepers!" And she started to cry.

Dennis and I have surrendered adoption to the Lord.
Dennis was adopted, so we naturally have a tender heart for this wonderful calling.
The Lord has not delivered an orphan to the Eastman home, however, and He may never do so.
And, we do not have to adopt an orphan to be obedient to Scripture.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
No orphan bears our name, but we are surrounded by people who have shared their name ... and we can serve THEM.

Sometimes we (humans) think we have to do EVERYthing or save EVERYone, and it feels overwhelming. Or, we don't know where to start - so we end up doing nothing.
It's true. We cannot save everyone, but each of us can do something, and we must seek the Lord's wisdom to know what that 'something' looks like.
As believers, we don't have a choice. "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Me."

Ignorance is bliss.
But once we are aware - we are ACCOUNTABLE.
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1

The Lord was not yet finished stirring up compassion for orphans in the Eastman home.
He put it on my heart for our family to watch this movie together.
To be honest, I have been avoiding it for quite a while, because I knew it was going to break me. I wasn't wrong.
We watched. In silence.
I soaked in every scene, every word, and shed many tears.
When the movie ended, no one spoke. A somber group inhabited our family room.
I needed a moment alone, so I stepped into our bedroom, grabbed a pillow, sat down on the bed, and began to weep. The weeping turned into sobbing. I could not wrap my mind around what I had just seen.
Dennis entered the room and said quietly, "I knew this is how I would find my wife."
He held me until the sobbing stopped, at which time I looked at him and asked, "There are just too many lepers, aren't there?"
He nodded solemnly and said, "Yes, there are."
"So what are we going to do? We can't be people who watch something like that, see the need, say, "Oh, how awful," cry, and then do nothing. What are we supposed to DO?"

We don't know the answer to that question.
We don't know why the Lord is stirring our hearts, making us uncomfortable, and convicting us about how we spend our time as a family, but He IS.
And you know what? We don't have to know the 'why' - because we know the One who does know! All we have to do - is obey.
The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9


Remembering our son - Matthew.

Sweet Matthew,

It has been thirteen years since I held you in my arms. Thirteen years since I looked at your little face and your tiny hands and feet. Thirteen years since I sat on a hospital bed, broken, overwhelmed with sorrow, and wondering how I would ever recover from the loss of my baby.
After everyone left, after the nurse took you away, when the room was dark and silent, the Lord met me in my darkest hour.
And that night, just hours after saying goodbye to you, the Lord began to gently bind my wounds and revive my crushed spirit.
Tears flowed freely day and night for weeks and my heart felt like it was being smashed inside my chest, but even in the deepest moments of grief, He held me tightly in His grip. He sustained me in my sorrow.
And He protected my mind. For, Matthew, I could not do so myself. I wondered ... did you feel pain when you died? Were you scared? Did you know who I was? Would you know my voice? Recognize my face when we reunite in glory?
I wondered if I could have prevented your death. Was it something I did? Something I ate? Did I put my selfish needs above your needs, preventing you from being healthy and whole?
The questions and fears did not linger long, but they made sure to knock on the door of my mind, begging to be allowed in. And each time, I had to force myself to speak the truth I knew was real even though I didn't understand it, or like it.
Your journal is filled with my questions, my thoughts, my confusion, and my praise. I knew you were fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and I knew He loved you with an everlasting love. I knew He had chosen the day of your death just as He had chosen the day of your birth. I knew He was powerful enough to restore life to you. But, He didn't. And though I didn't know "why," I had to ask, "What, Lord? What do you want me to learn from this?"
Matthew, your death changed everything. It changed how your dad and I view God's sovereignty. It changed how we view our family. It changed how I pray. How I trust God. How I read Scripture. Everything I knew before was now being seen, pondered and lived through the lens of suffering. And while it was the most intense trial the Lord has ever asked me to walk through, it is also one of the greatest gifts He has ever given to me.
The Lord used your death to strengthen me, Matthew.
I am not the same woman I was the day I held your precious, lifeless body in my arms.
He used your death to push me to my knees in prayer.
Bury my face in the pages of Scripture.
Fall in love with worship music so I could praise Him through tears.
Learn to say, "I need."
Learn to swallow pride and accept help.
He used your death to teach me how to recognize and comfort the hurting, even when it was uncomfortable.
He used your death to start a ministry that reaches out to women who are as broken and sorrow-filled as I was the night I wept inconsolably on the closet floor.
Your life, your 133 days, were purposeful and beautiful and changed the trajectory of my life, forever.
You are our son, Matthew Isaac Eastman.
From the moment we knew you existed until this very day, we have acknowledged your life.
Every year, on the anniversary of your delivery, your father brings me seven bouquets of flowers, representing the lives of each Eastman child. Though we have never felt your arms around our necks, listened to you laugh, or heard you whisper, "I love you," in the darkness of night, you are an Eastman. And you are ours. Our precious son.
It took time, years actually, but I will never forget the day I stood on the sandy shore of the Pacific Ocean on Mother's Day, with your sister Ellie bundled in my arms, and finally cried out, "Thank You, Lord, for taking my son," while tears streamed down my face. It was the most difficult act of obedience I have ever surrendered to ... praising the God who takes away.
And yet, as the sound of the crashing waves faded in the background while I walked away from the shore, I felt a peace and contentment I had never experienced. I thought I had surrendered in the dark night of the hospital room, but I had merely taken the first step into surrender.
And God carried me through every step thereafter. Faithfully. Patiently. And with grace.
Oh, Matthew, as deeply as you are loved (and missed) by me and your father, I am thankful you have only known the perfect love of the One who created you, the One who numbered your days, and the One who chose to give you - to us.
You are real. You are ours. And you will never be forgotten.
I love you. ❤ Mom


Convicted by my own lesson! And GRATEFUL!

Long ago I was challenged to insert my name into Scripture passages to make them personal and poignant. I cannot remember the who or when of the challenge, but I remember the passage, and my goodness did the person know what he was talking about!
The passage was Romans 6:1, 2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 
A convicting verse, yes?
Watch that conviction increase when I write it like this:
What shall Michelle say then? Is Michelle to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall Michelle who died to sin still live in it? 

I think of that challenge often and have employed it in discipleship and counseling many times. It can make Scripture pop where conviction of sin is needed, but it can also provide tremendous comfort for the hurting heart that needs to be drenched with encouragement and truth.
This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50
This is Stephanie's comfort in her affliction, that Your promises give her life.

It was this very exercise that recently poured fresh conviction over me and reminded me of the value of making Scripture personal. It has been said that the Bible is a love letter from God. If this is true, then it is not only personal, it is intimate. A Father talking to His child, quietly, privately, as if He is sitting across from her, looking directly into her eyes. What a precious image!

Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie were in an intense struggle to be kind to one another. Siblings bicker and fight, of course, and siblings who are home together all.day.long (because their family room is their classroom) can fall into the "familiarity breeds contempt" pit. Often. Generally, the falls are short and recovery happens quickly, but every once in a while they loiter at the bottom, refusing to climb out. It is frustrating, annoying, and ex-hau-sting. Instead of responding to them in the Spirit, with patience and gentleness, I responded in the flesh with impatience and gruffness. I was sick of listening to their incessant whining and arguing and just wanted it to STOP. Lectures ensued, separation from one another was prescribed, privileges were lost. To no avail, however, for nothing changed.

And then, as I stood in the kitchen, staring at their six eyes, mentally preparing my 627th lecture of the morning, I told myself to pray. It was an eloquent, thoughtful prayer that went something like this, "Lord! HELP ME or I am going to LOSE my MIND!" Friends, the next moment it was as though the heavens opened and a blast of bright light broke through the roof to shine down on me with a voice that screamed, "STOP TALKING AND PUT THEM IN FRONT OF GOD'S WORD!"
And all fell silent.
What was I thinking? I'm not the Holy Spirit! I have no ability to convict anyone of anything. The only thing I can do is point my children to the Cross. To Christ. To Scripture. To the Truth.
And then - trust Him to work out the details.

I took a deep breath, pulled out three pieces of notebook paper, grabbed three pens, and asked Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie to get their Bibles and sit at the counter. No more of Michelle. Not her voice, not her discipline, not her opinions. Just truth. Written on the pages of Scripture.
Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
I Corinthians 13:4-6

They copied the passage.
I asked them to write it out again - inserting their names in place of the word "love."
And then, each of them read the passage out loud.
The conviction was palpable.
After each of them read their personal version of I Corinthians 13, we engaged in a discussion about whether the statements were true. Is Ellie patient and kind? Does Josiah not insist on his own way? Does Isaiah rejoice in the truth?
They were humbled by many responses of "no."
It was a sweet, redemptive, and beautiful exchange.

But the lesson was not over.
As I collected their papers to put into in their files, it felt like the Lord whispered, "And what about you, daughter? Where is your name?"
Deep, deep sigh.
I pulled out another sheet of 8-1/2x11, wide-ruled, three-hole-punched notebook paper and started writing.
Michelle is patient and kind;
Michelle does not envy or boast;
Michelle is not arrogant or rude.
Michelle does not insist on her own way;
Michelle is not irritable or resentful;
Michelle does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
Michelle rejoices with the truth.
I Corinthians 13:4-6

"This certainly wasn't true today, was it, Lord?
Forgive me. And thank You for never leaving me as I am, but always drawing me to Yourself and planting in me a desire to look less like me and much, much more like You. Sometimes it feels as though my image will be forever reflected in the mirror, but I will not give up trying to squish it out, for You promise that You will never leave me and that Your mercies are new every morning because You are a faithful God. And I believe You! Help me, Lord, I pray, for I cannot do this on my own!"

... if we are faithless, He remains faithful - for He cannot deny Himself. II Timothy 2:13




Saturday, March 30th
Saturday, April 6th
3-6 pm

Purpose: Foster Care Fundraiser!
We need to raise $1,000 to cover the cost of expenses for Foster Care certification.
(fingerprinting, CPR/First Aid classes, cabinet locks, fire extinguisher, house prep etc.)

12 Spaces Available
for each camp date
9 toddlers/children (age 2-10) 
3 babies (age infant to one year)

Cost: Donations Only
(Whatever amount you think three hours of peace is worth to you as a couple!)

Three hours of non-stop movement and FUN!
We hope your kids can join us!

And thank you, in advance, friends, and family, for supporting us as we work hard to prepare our home (and ourselves) for the babies the Lord plans to send to us. ♥


Today was a GREAT day!

We were approved to begin official training to become a certified Resource Family!
(you can read about our entire journey up to this point HERE)

We are thrilled beyond description and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to give a voice to the children who need someone to speak on their behalf.
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

Step 6
Now, we move on to Step 7 - certification!
Classes, training, physicals, fingerprinting, CPR/First Aid, house prep, baby registry, etc.
If all goes as planned, we will be a certified Resource Family and able to take in a baby - by June!

We could never have done this on our own.
Encouragement, prayer, odd jobs to earn money, unexpected gifts, and enthusiastic support have kept us going on the discouraging days and remind us that we are not doing this alone - but as a community.
And we are thankful!

We have no idea what lies ahead for the Eastman family in the world of foster care, but the Lord DOES!
So we will wait on Him for our marching orders, always ready with boots on and weapons ready!

♥ Pray for us, if you will. ♥
We are entering a unique mission field, and the enemy is going to do whatever he can to try and keep us off the field.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
May He remember all your sacrifice and accept your burnt offerings.
May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to His anointed.
He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!
Psalm 20


Happy Birthday, Caleb!

15 years.

Life, health, learning, protection, maturity, and growth.
The Lord has been good to you, Caleb Jeremiah!

We are thankful for you.
Since you were a toddler, you have been a source of amusement, entertainment, and joy to every member of our family. Even your numerous facial expressions delighted us!
And nothing has changed.
You may have outgrown the silliness of childhood, but enough remains to keep you young at heart and able to connect with kids of all ages - and they love you!
It is fun to watch you surrounded by kids, being used as a human mountain, chasing them and making them laugh until their sides hurt, and picking up and smiling at the ones no one else even notices.
We have no idea what the Lord has ordained for your future, Caleb, but we are pretty certain He will use you to affect the lives of children in a way that matters.

You are a young man of simple needs and simple wants.
Contentment comes easily to you, and this is a character quality to maintain and strengthen.
Life is filled with challenges and disappointments, as you know, and a man who can roll with the punches, adapt to new circumstances and laugh in the midst of frustrations is a man people will appreciate and respect - and - a man who will provide encouragement and comfort for those who need it most.

I love you, Caleb Jeremiah, and I praise God for choosing us - for each other.
I will always be here to listen to, love, support, and serve you. ❤

Happy 15th birthday, my son!
Love, Mom


A challenge in LIFE to consider DEATH.

Once a month we go for a walk through this cemetery.
It is a lovely, tranquil setting for a stroll, allowing for quiet reflection or good conversation.
It is also the perfect setting to ponder the truth of Ecclesiastes 7:2
It is better to enter a house of mourning than a house of feasting, since death is the end of every man, and the living should take this to heart.
Do you see the challenge?
It is BETTER to attend a funeral than to attend a party.
When we laugh and play and hop from one emotional high to the next, we are not still or quiet long enough to think about reality. And Scripture says that death - is - a reality. "Death is the end of every man." 
Because there are far more parties than funerals in the everyday pieces of life, we must be intentional about finding a place and a time to think on the truths written on the pages of Scripture about life and death.

Life is precious.
Scripture describes the beauty of how we were intimately formed by a loving Creator long before we took our first breath on this earth.
Psalm 139:13-18 declares,
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Death, too, is precious.
While it may not be pleasant, there is no fear of what lies on the other side of death for the believer. For on the other side - is CHRIST!
~ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. Philippians 1:21-23
~ Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

I love these walks we take together as a family in such a sacred setting. There is a unique sense of awe and respect that possesses each member as we look at the gravestones, reading the names and number of years given to each person. Every name etched in stone was precious to someone - because every life is precious. Not only to those who knew and loved them but to the God who gave them life. 

After our walk this week, I found this wonderful writing by Thomas Watson that heightens the challenge of Ecclesiastes 7:2. I pray it will cause each of us to stop and ponder - truly ponder - this life we have been given. How we spend our time. With whom we spend our time. What we place in front of our eyes and what we allow to flow into our ears. How we speak. And above all else, how we reflect the beauty of a holy and loving God to those around us. When people look upon us, who do they see? Us? Or Christ?
Oh, friends, how I pray it is the latter!


"We were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow!" Job 8:9

"My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass!" Psalm 102:11

"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time."   Ephesians 5:16

How you spend your time is a matter of great importance. Many people fool away their time - some in idle visits, others in recreations and pleasures which secretly bewitch the heart, and take it away from holy things. What are our golden hours for - but to attend to our souls?

Time misspent is not time lived - but time lost!

Time is a precious commodity.

Think of your short stay in the world. "We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow, gone so soon without a trace!"
1 Chronicles 29:15

There is but a span between the cradle and the grave! Solomon says there is "a time to be born and a time to die" - but mentions no time of living, as if that were so short, it was not worth naming!

Time, when it has once gone, can never be recalled. "My life passes more swiftly than a runner. It flees away, filled with tragedy. It disappears like a swift boat, like an eagle that swoops down on its prey."
Job 9:25-26

The serious thoughts of our short stay here in this world would be a great means of promoting godliness. Whoever considers how flitting his life is - will hasten his repentance.

"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14

"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life!"
Psalm 39:4

"So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

- Thomas Watson (1620-1686)


This and that.

Orion has settled into the Eastman routine quite nicely, and we are thankful!
He is 100% puppy - in need of correction and training and training and correction on an hourly basis - but he learns fast and is eager to please.
Luke is training him in Swedish, so we are constantly looking up, "How do you say 'xyz' in Swedish?" (We are grateful for the audio pronunciation that accompanies each translation on Google!)
Luke has a lot of work ahead of him, for Huskies have definite minds of their own, but Orion has met his match! Two strong-willed, stubborn males vying for the alpha position.
The betting windows are open! Who will win? My money is on LUKE!
(The bottom left photo was taken after Orion's first bath. His expression perfectly captures how he FELT about the bath! HA!)

❤ We completed our official Foster Care interview! ❤
Dennis and I each had a personal interview the week before, and Wednesday the social worker met with each of our children, and then with me and Dennis together. We had a tremendous sense of peace all day, and we know it was because the saints were praying while we were talking!
The social worker was a delight and so gracious to our family. The best part, however, was her honesty. We invited her to speak truth to us without worrying about startling us or making us want to rescind our application - and she did! We were grateful because if the Lord allows us to be approved and become a certified Resource Family, we want to walk in with our eyes wide open. And this woman? She handed us high-powered binoculars!
We have much to think about and pray over while we await the decision of the agency, and we are eager to see where the Lord will take us and what He has planned once they do!
(We will know if there is a red light or a green light in mid-March.)

This year, I pulled the entire family into the writing of Valentines.
Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie thought it was terrific and had great fun writing to each family member.
The teen boys, however, exclaimed, "You want us to write love notes to our BROTHERS - and DAD?!?"
It took some doing, but I finally convinced them that they were simply notes of appreciation - that just happened to be written on heart-shaped paper. And they acquiesced. <insert eye roll here>

This man!
Our friend.
Our brother.
We enjoyed a fantastic night of conversation, encouragement, truth-telling, laughter, and prayer.
(we missed Micah and Luke who were both at work)
As we closed the door after hugging him goodbye, I was reminded of this beautiful verse ... How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1
Thank you for sacrificing precious hours of school prep and sleep to spend the evening with our family, Jeff. We love you and are proud to call you FAMILY!

~~~ This has been the BEST winter we have experienced in southern California in y e a r s!
Rain, rain, rain!
Cold, cold, cold!
We have been living in sweatshirts, triple layers, beanies, and warm coats for months - and we are loving every second of it!
Snow-capped mountains, bright, green hills, long-forgotten flowers that are once again in bloom, and the scent of fresh rain and clean air have filled my days with JOY. I cannot wait for the spectacular spring that will follow this wonderful winter. ☔💦🌳🌷

When looking for a card to be used for the one-year anniversary notes sent to the women who request hand-written letters through our miscarriage ministry, I found this one. It's perfect!
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7, 8

~~~ I hope you enjoy a fabulous day of worship and are encouraged and strengthened for the week ahead!  


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


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.
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


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 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


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


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:
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.
- 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
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
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.
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
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.
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!


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!
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. ❤