Wrapping up our Middle Ages study with a show!

A field trip to Medieval Times was a fitting and fun way to end our study of the middle ages.

When Ellie took the throne, she told the boys, "You are my Knights!"
Isaiah did not mind this declaration, but Josiah CLEARLY had problems with it!

A kind worker took pity on the homeschool group (four Eastmans) and granted us access to the collection of real swords made by hand in Spain. They were mesmerizingly gorgeous! (My favorite held a sapphire.) Had we $800 worth of change in our pockets, we could have taken one home with us. Maybe next time! ⚔️🛡🗡⚔️🛡🗡

Another benefit of being the lone homeschool group in a sea of school kids?
Being seated in the front row - by ourselves! (Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie were thrilled!)
Giant drumsticks - corn on the cob - a potato - garlic bread - and a cookie for lunch. YUM!

Before the tournament began, they provided a half-hour presentation on chivalry in the 21st century.
They addressed kindness, compassion, accepting people who are different than us, defending the weak, and bullying. Well done, Medieval Times! WELL DONE!

We cheered for our Green Knight throughout the tournament, and he chose Ellie to receive one of the flowers he was awarded from the queen. She was embarrassed - but glad!



We’re DONE!
We’re DONE!
We’re D•O•N•E!
As of 4 p.m. this afternoon, May 18, 2019,
we officially completed our Foster Care and Specialized Medical training!
🙌🏼 🙌🏼 🙌🏼 🙌🏼 🙌🏼 🙌🏼 🙌🏼 🙌🏼
Now - we wait (somewhat) patiently for the Lord to BRING THE BABIES!


An unexpected yet fruitful day.

My view today.
A day that was not expected, yet much needed.

~ extra hours of sleep
~ four lovely hours of silence
~ the opportunity to read an excellent biography which, I suspect, is preparing my heart for the battles that lurk within the foster care world

On the second day of a head cold, complete with aches and fever, the beauty of solitude was the perfect prescription for my body, mind, and soul.

How I love learning from the faithful saints of old!

A few quotes penned by John G. Patton:

“I returned to my lodging with a lighter heart than I had for some time enjoyed feeling that nothing so clears the vision, and lifts up the life, as a decision to move forward in what you know to be entirely the will of the Lord.”

“Life in such circumstances led me to cling very near to the Lord Jesus; I knew not, for one brief hour, when or how attack might be made; and yet, with my trembling hand clasped in the Hand once nailed on Calvary, and now swaying the sceptre of the Universe, calmness and peace and resignation abode in my soul.”

“Life is God's great gift, to be preserved for His uses, not thrown away.”


Our G3 - and me!

It never occurred to me until today,
but in the three years I have been TAKING photos during outings with our G3,
I have never been IN the photos!
So - here it is.


A letter to my children on Mother's Day.

Dear Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie ~ 

The longer I am a mother, the more I realize that Mother's Day is not about me.
❤ It is about YOU.❤
Without children, I am a woman, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a niece, a friend ... but not a mother.
You gave me the title "mom," and because you needed me I dove into the role and never looked back.
Motherhood is a gift. Not a right.
You belong to the One who created you in the secret places of the earth.
You are not mine, sweet children. You are HIS.
And for this, I am grateful. He loves you, knows you, sees you, and wants you in ways I cannot fathom, and though I love you with everything I can give, He loves you more. And best.
I do not deserve you, Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie; yet the Lord chose to bless me with seven children, six here on earth, and our sweet Matthew in heaven. And He has used each of you to grow, mature, convict, challenge, soften, encourage, support, and teach me in ways that are unique to motherhood. Through the seemingly endless monotony of changing diapers, doing laundry, making meals, giving baths, brushing hair, making beds, and rocking you to sleep in the wee hours of the morning - the Lord was changing me. He was showing me my selfishness. Revealing my pride.
Teaching me that in order to love you well, I had to love myself less.
And I am embarrassed to say, I did not always choose you.
He can restore the years the locusts have eaten.
He is a God of forgiveness. A God who heals. A God who restores.
And for those beautiful truths, I am grateful.
It would be far too easy to relive the past, tallying every mistake I have made as a mother, recounting every thoughtless word, every foolish action, every sinful thought. But who wins in that scenario? Only one.
The enemy. And I cannot, I will not give him that power! He may stand before the throne of God every single day accusing me, but every single day Jesus steps in front of me and declares,
"Back off! I know she is not perfect, but she is MINE!"
Praise Him that His love for us is more numerous than the sands on the seashore!
Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah, Isaiah, and, Ellie,
My prayer is that the Lord will increase my desire to love you, serve you, encourage you, and support you more with each passing year. Your need for me will lessen and change as you grow into adults, but I want to remain one of your strongest, most steadfast, immovable supports so you always know that I not only love you as you are, but I accept you and REJOICE in you - as you are.
May God grant us many many more years to enjoy each other.
I love you. Every one of you.
Mom ♥


A beautiful gift that opened my eyes and affected my prayers.

The Lord has put it on the hearts of several individuals to join our family as we prepare to bring babies into our home. Baby clothes, a diaper bag, board books, monetary gifts, bottles, handmade items ... each one has been received with enthusiasm and gratitude, for we know we cannot do this alone!
Every time someone provides for these sweet babies we are reminded that the Lord knows our needs before we even ask, and He will be faithful to meet those needs.

Monday afternoon a large box was delivered to our door, with the return address bearing the name of some dear friends. Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie and I smiled and laughed as we pulled out each item, imagining babies wearing the tiny shoes and outfits and snuggling in the blankets. It was evident that our friends had fun shopping and we were thrilled with their choices!

The gifts made us smile.
The letter made me cry.

Dear Michelle, I pray you are all well!
As I had mentioned to you, the Lord just kept emphasizing Moses in the basket. That's why a basket is included in this package.
As we prayed over the little ones you will soon welcome in your home, our daughter got the idea to include her little book about Moses.
It is not a book we would normally gift as it is used and has some writing on the front page and some pages are a bit damaged at the bottom.
But I couldn't help to think, "Isn't this how the Lord accepts us?"
We are all a bit damaged. Some stains here and there, but it is what He deposits in us, the gift of salvation, that makes us righteous vessels to do His work!
When I pictured Moses in the basket I could see (because I know how the story ends) that the Lord had set apart that little boy and kept him safe right in the midst of his enemies, by His almighty power.
I don't know who these babies will be or how many will be sent to your family throughout the course of this journey, but however many, I will be praying that the Lord will bathe these littles in the prayers of faithful prayer warriors so that one day, they may deliver the message of salvation to their people, family or friends.
I'm also sending you a little prayer list that our daughter put together. I asked her, "If you were a baby, what would you want others to pray over you?"
I would love for others to commit to praying for you and your family, especially for these little babies! So that's what I kept imagining when I thought of Moses' basket. A basket full of prayers for the babies that will soon be housed under your roof and protection and nurture.
The Lord bless you and keep you in perfect peace.

Prayers for babies (written by a 9-year-old little girl)
1. That they grow up to know the Lord
2. That they will always have enough food in their homes
3. That the parents would get enough sleep at night
4. That the babies stay healthy and grow healthy

Friends, I have never once thought of Moses as a foster child. He was not an orphan, for his parents lived. Though he was willfully surrendered by his parents, not removed from their care, he would have been murdered had he stayed. His parents refused to let their baby die at the hands of Pharoah, yet still exercised tremendous faith by placing him in a river, hoping someone would see the basket and draw him out of the water. Through God's providence, the princess who found him returned him (unknowingly) to his mother, but for most of his life, he was cared for not by his own parents, but by another.

My friend was right. The Lord had set Moses apart and kept His protective hand over him, for when he was grown, he returned to his parents, his siblings, his people, and fulfilled the purpose God had for him.
Moses led God's people out of bondage and into freedom!

The "Moses theme" of my friend's gift is perfectly fitting for the foster care world.
It is also tragically beautiful.
Thousands and thousands of baskets, each with a foster baby, foster child, or foster teen tucked inside, float down the rivers of every state and every country - every day.
But there are not enough hands reaching from among the reeds to draw them out of the water.

Lord, You have not called every person to bring home a floating basket with a child inside of it. You have not called every person to adopt or foster a child. But You have called every one of us to visit orphans in their distress. So we ask You to show us HOW to visit. Is one called to weave the baskets while another is called to draw attention to the thousands floating in the water? Is one called to clothe the babies while another provides food and medical expenses for the teens? Is one called to bring the children home while another commits to financing the items needed for each child? Is one called to minister to the babies while another is called to minister to the one holding the babies? Lord! These are YOUR children! They were created by Your hand and they bear Your image. Protect them. Provide for them. Prepare the way for them as You did for Moses. Each basket may not contain a child who is going to change the world, but each basket contains a child who will make a difference in the lives of those who choose to love him. Please, Lord. Move the hearts of Your people to pray. As my sweet sister wrote, may there be a basket full of prayers floating beside every basket holding a baby so they will never know a day that isn't surrounded by Your name, Your love, Your affection, and Your grace. They are Yours, Lord. As Moses' parents placed their precious son in a river centuries ago, trusting You with his life, we surrender every foster baby, every foster child, and every foster teen to You now, knowing that You truly are ...
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families… Psalm 68:5, 6


Slow to sacrifice - but now - fully surrendered.

Every morning I wake up to this.
An empty crib.
An empty crib ready to receive a newborn baby boy or a nine-month-old baby girl.
An empty crib ready to be filled on May 19th (when our training will be complete), or in six months when a baby needs a home.
An empty crib reminding me that I have sacrificed my only personal space in our home.
And the sacrifice was not easy.

I am an introvert living in a house with seven humans and a dog.
Three of those humans are children.
Three are teenage boys.
Only one of the six is an introvert.
My husband is an extrovert extraordinaire.
And the dog? He likes attention too.

For the first week after the crib was set up, I sat at the edge of our bed, staring at it.
"I will never be alone in this room again."
"I will never be able to sit on the bed and read a book in solitude."
"No more movie nights for me and Dennis."
"Our boys will not be able to come in for our late night discussions."
"This was the last place I could be alone. And now, it's gone."
"Lord? Why am I struggling with this so much?"

He was gracious to let me wrestle with the reality of the life we are willingly walking into.
He didn't solve it for me. He didn't even interrupt my thoughts. He just let me be me, witnessing my attempt to reconcile what I think I need and what I know I want with the unknowns of what will be.
It wasn't until a few weeks later, as I sat staring at the crib again, thinking the same thoughts again, that He finally intervened with a good shake of the shoulders and a loud, "Mi-CHELLE!" to get my attention. "Why are you struggling so much, daughter?"
an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy

- time
- energy
- finances
- convenience
- sleep
- social events
- personal space
- peace
- privacy
- freedom

I willingly sacrifice all of these things for my own children.
I would sacrifice my life if the need called for it.
So I had to ask myself, "Am I willing to do the same for someone else's child?"
I didn't know it until that moment while staring at the empty crib, as the word sacrifice rolled around in my head, but the answer was simple. "Yes! I am willing!"

Every sacrifice made for these babies will be worth it.
Because ...
being a foster parent may be hard, but it's not as hard as being a foster child.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3, 4

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:39


A beautiful book. A beautiful prayer.

This book.
Lovingly gifted to us after we lost our son Matthew.
It sat tucked inside his memory box for years until it was rediscovered and
placed on the shelf to be read and enjoyed at anytime.
It is a precious book. 
Written by saints hundreds of years ago,
yet offering the same joy, the same peace, and the same hope - today.

My morning was kicked off with this Puritan prayer, sent by my loving sister-in-law,
who knew not the state of my heart.
But God knew, for the prayer was fitting - encouraging - needed - and appreciated.

I share it here for other brothers or sisters who need the same encouragement.

O God the author of all good,
I come to You for the grace another day will require for its duties and events.
I step out into a wicked world;
I carry about with me an evil heart.
I know that without You I can do nothing,
that everything with which I shall be concerned,
however harmless in itself,
may prove an occasion of sin or folly,
unless I am kept by Your power.
Hold me up and I shall be safe. 

Preserve my understanding from subtilty of error,
my affections from love of idols,
my character from stain of vice,
my profession from every form of evil.
May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Your blessing,
and in which I cannot invite Your inspection.
Prosper me in all lawful undertakings,
or prepare me for disappointments.
Give me neither poverty nor riches.
Feed me with food convenient for me,
lest I be full and deny You and say, Who is the Lord?
or be poor, and steal, and take Your name in vain.

May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Your will.
Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it,
to improve my talents,
to redeem my time,
to walk in wisdom toward those without,
and in kindness to those within,
to do good to all men,
and especially to my fellow Christians.
And to You be the glory.

~ Puritan Prayer


The WHY of Foster Care - is Him!

For the past six weeks, we have been swimming in foster care training. Reading articles, watching videos, filling out questionaries, taking quizzes, completing worksheets, and spending dozens of hours in classes. When we first received the list of required training hours it was a touch overwhelming, but it has proved to be the best part of the process thus far. Every article, every video clip, every class is a catalyst for deep and thought-provoking conversation. Sometimes, the information is so intense Dennis and I just look at each other and say nothing, knowing there are no words to express the thoughts and emotions tumbling about in each of us. More often than not, what we are studying triggers memories and hurts and struggles from our own past and within our own hearts, and we are forced to take a scrutinizing look at ourselves to work through emotions and memories long forgotten, or ignored.

They say that the foster world is filled with grief. The grief of the parents, the children, the siblings, extended family, friends, social workers, therapists, police, doctors, judges, lawyers ... everyone who shares a piece of the trauma involved when a child is removed from her home. And they are right. But I would add one more group to the list - the foster parents. I can only speak for our agency, but to make sure an applicant is mentally, emotionally, and physically stable to engage in the traumatic world of foster care, they do not just "dust off" the visible artifacts - they excavate! Relationships, family, childhood, teen years, marriage, parenting, personal struggles, coping mechanisms, sin ... all of it is pulled up and laid bare. And in that process, something interesting (and often unexpected) is discovered. Grief.

Grief for what was. Grief for what should have been. Grief for mistakes. Grief for ignorance. Grief for injustice. Grief for poor choices. Grief for broken relationships. Grief for wounds that healed but still left scars. Grief for improper thinking. Grief for hurtful memories. Whether discovered in huge, obvious piles or tucked into tiny spaces ... grief exists, and it must be confronted.

At the beginning of every live training session, the question is asked, "Why are you here?"
Dennis and I know our "why." The Lord has called us to foster care with an incredibly loud and clear voice. There is not a hint of ambiguity, confusion, or doubt. But friends, I will confess that there are moments when my mind and my body are gripped with fear when I think about the realities of what lies ahead. Having a baby in our home is the easy part. It is the 20-30 hours each week of birth parent visits, social worker meetings, doctor appointments, therapy sessions, court dates, and phone calls that set my heart racing. Then, the enemy creeps into my thoughts to taunt me. "Really, Michelle? You think you can manage all of that AND take care of your family AND homeschool? Please. You are so ill-equipped for this." (That is the kindest of the taunts.) I know his goal is to discourage me, to take my eyes off of Christ and focus them on myself. I KNOW this. And yet I listen long enough to feel the panic rise and the icy fingers of fear begin to grip my heart.

Every time - every time - the enemy is whispering in my ear, the Lord rescues me by reminding me WHY we are walking into this fierce spiritual battle called foster care. An article, a video clip of a child being abused, a heart-wrenching journal entry of a foster child, the truth that they did not choose foster care (it was chosen for them), their confusion and fear, the brokenness of the birth parents, the stories of healing and redemption. The Lord uses each one of these to drown out the voice of the enemy so I can hear HIS voice say, "Michelle. I know you are not equipped, but you don't need to be. I know what I am doing, and we will walk through this together, one day and one step at a time. And daughter, the answer to your question is simple. You are doing this - for Me."

Thank You, Lord, for being a God who never lets go of His children. Thank You for being a God of order, and not chaos. Thank you that fear never comes from You, and for having the power to destroy fear when the enemy wields it as a weapon. Thank You for being a God who turns despair into dancing and lamentations into laughter. There is nothing You cannot handle and nothing You cannot redeem.
Please, Lord, redeem the foster world. There is nothing it needs more - than You. 

♥ This piece of art was lovingly created by a precious sister in the Lord,
and hangs on our nursery wall to remind us every day that the answer to the "why"
of foster care is simple. It's HIM. ♥


Happy Birthday, Isaiah!

Ten years!
For ten years you have been an absolute blessing to our family, Isaiah Daniel!

You are funny.
A thinker.
You have an active imagination.
You are creative.
A risk taker.
Quick to try new things.
A faithful friend.

Since the day you were born you have made all of us smile, and our home and family would not be as entertaining or light-hearted without you!

We have no idea what the Lord has planned for your life, but we pray you will always SEEK His plans and follow them quickly, obediently, and joyfully. You do not belong to us, Isaiah. You belong to the Lord. A God who made you with His own hands and in His own image. Whatever you do must be for His glory, not your own. People are drawn to you because of your easygoing nature, but it will be the light of Christ shining through you that will keep them by your side.

Do not waste your youth, Isaiah. Ask God to give you a passion for prayer and a passion for reading His Word so you can spend your carefree days as a boy building up a storehouse of Scripture and strengthening your mind and your resolve through daily discourse with Him. He knows you best, son. He knows what you need. He knows where you are weak and He knows where your strengths lie.
SEEK HIM. Daily. Hourly if need be.
Before you look to me or Dad, your siblings or your friends - SEEK CHRIST.
He is your rock, your source of wisdom, and your strength.
He will never fail you, for He will never leave you or forsake you, and He is a God who cannot lie.
Like the prophet you were named after, be a boy who is BOLD. Never ashamed of the Gospel, and always willing to speak the truth with compassion and grace, even if it means standing alone.

We love you, Isaiah Daniel, and we are beyond blessed to call you our son. 

Happy 10th birthday!


Wedding FUN!

We spent Easter weekend in Arizona because ... 
"our Caleb" became a HUSBAND!
Not only was Dennis honored to stand next to our dear friend as a groomsman, but our entire family was invited to share in the joy as Caleb & Camille committed to FOREVER before God.
We enjoyed a wonderful time together as a family and made great memories and new friends!

Thank you for so graciously including us in your wedding day, Caleb & Camille!
It is clear that you are loved and supported by friends and family who want the best for you,
and you are not rejoicing in your marriage alone! We all share your JOY!
Dennis was thrilled to be trusted as a groomsman, witnessing the promises you made to one another, and ready and willing to walk with you through the highs and lows of life in the years to come.
Caleb, you know you are FAMILY, and now Camille, you too are an Eastman!
We pray the Lord will continue to strengthen, mature, and refine you as you get to know one another in a new and unique way - as man and wife - and we trust the Lord will teach you to love Him more than you love one another so you are able to love each other - better.
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Clinkingbeard!
♥ We will be praying for you and will always be here if you need us. ♥


Start fighting when the sun rises and until the stars shine!

I love this spin on Psalm 1.

But on days like today, I feel like there should be a P.S. that reads,

"Satan hates families who read the Word, love God, and seek to obey Him.
If you are one of those families, grab your weapons! The enemy is prowling the perimeter of your house looking for ways to break in and devour every single one of you.
Be alert! Stand your ground! Strategize. Assume nothing. This enemy never quits, he never dies, and he spends every waking hour seeking to destroy God's people.
He is intelligent. He studies his prey to find their greatest weakness and then attacks with precision.
He is patient, willing to wait for the optimal moment to strike to produce the greatest damage.
Do not underestimate him and never, ever let down your guard.
Your Bible should be secured in one hand while the other hand is raised in prayer so that your two greatest weapons are always poised at the ready to defend or attack as the moment demands.
It is true, Christian.
The Lord blesses the man, the woman, the child, and the family who delights in His Word.
But the enemy? He loathes that same man, woman, child, and family. He wants them distracted, self-focused, busy, and apathetic. If he can keep their eyes on themselves instead of on the Savior, he wins.
He rejoices as they sink deeper and deeper into the sin they once abhorred and avoided - but now justify.
Christian! Delight in the Word of God!
Morning and evening, day after day, year after year, hiding His Word in your heart so that you will not only keep yourself from sinning against Him, but you will know Him better and love Him more.
But in your delight be diligent.
Keep your weapons sharp, your shield in front of you, and your battle gear ever at the ready. 
The battle may belong to the Lord, but brothers and sisters, He has commanded us to join Him in the fight!"

May we be encouraged by this wonderful image of our brothers of old.

And I (Nehemiah) looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail.
And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall.
Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.
So we labored at the work,
and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out.
Nehemiah 4:14-18, 21

An unexpected and BEAUTIFUL gift!

These two friends.
They used each of those qualities to bless me in a unique way.💗💗

Because of the need to have our foster nursery in our master bedroom, and the fact that I have absolutely no skill for design, I asked my talented friends if they would help me figure it out. 
Instead - they did an entire bedroom/nursery MAKEOVER!

When they brought me in for the reveal, I cried.
I cried for their kindness toward me.
I cried because they created something beautiful.
I cried for the babies that would be surrounded by that beauty.
Most of all, I cried because I felt LOVED.♥️
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works ... encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24, 25

Now, we just need to fill the nursery with the SUPPLIES for the babies!
The countdown is on, friends, and our lives are about to change in unique, dramatic, and beautiful ways! We don’t know what we don’t know, but we know the God who DOES!



Some of my favorite pieces.

My absolute FAVORITE piece!
Our custom print with our Foster Care THEME!
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8, 9

Thank you, Christina and Christina, for loving me in such a unique and tangible way.
You created something that I could never have created myself, and every time I walk into our room I feel encouraged - supported - and cherished because everywhere I look there is evidence of your kindness, your generosity, and your love. Thank you, precious sisters. I love you. ❤ Michelle