9.21.2018

HIS ways. They are always better than mine!

The fear of falling in love with a child and then losing him/her is a real one. 
Today, 750 children will enter foster care with the hopes that someone faces that fear head on and loves them in spite of it. - Johnston Moore

This quote hit me hard.
The Lord continues to increase our desire to engage in foster care while continuing to ask us - to wait.
We know the "why" of the waiting and we are obeying His orders (admittedly, with impatience at times), but we are also working hard to get ourselves ready for the day when He says, "NOW! It's time! Let's GO!" Oh, friends! What a day that will be!

We knew when we surrendered our family to foster care/adoption the ride would be anything but smooth and simple. Orphan care is a spiritual battle, and the enemy never sends his weakest warriors to fight. We have not even filled out an application yet, and already he is trying to discourage us.
I will confess that he has accomplished his goal more than once. We take three steps forward and he knocks us back two. BUT GOD. Every time the enemy takes a swipe at us, the Lord delivers a counter-attack and sends him scurrying back into the hole where he belongs.

I am grateful and embarrassed when witnessing such a scene because I am reminded of how small my faith really is. Why do I care about the tactics of the enemy? Why do I think he could possibly win? If God has called the Eastman family to take in children through foster care and/or adoption,
n o t h i n g will keep His will from being accomplished! Including my own weakness.
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

Forget your own ways, Michelle! Acknowledge the Lord. Let HIM direct. If you do, you will always be going in the right direction.
I love that Scripture makes everything so clear. No confusion. No questions.
Be still and KNOW - that I am God. Psalm 46:10
He is God. I am not. My only choice is to surrender. And trust.

So, I do.
And, I will.
Over and over again until I stop trying to do things my way, and let the Lord do things HIS way.
Because His ways are always best.

This God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true;
He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8, 9

9.20.2018

Working early feels good!


When you and your boys are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6:30 am, and the school day does not begin until 8:45, it is the PERFECT time to pull the couch apart to vacuum every nook and cranny, sweep/vacuum under and behind said couch, and rotate and vacuum the rug
(with the scent of chocolate chip muffins baking in the oven)- because you can!
The BEST part?
Everyone was so thrilled with the cleanliness and freshness of the room, they asked if we could do ALL of our school lessons in it! (after consuming the entire pan of a dozen muffins, of course)
The answer was a resounding, “Yes! Yes, we can!”
(I’m now pondering what we can deep-clean on our next “early morning of energy!”๐Ÿ˜‚)
P.S. The early-morning gray skies affected my camera lighting.
Our shutters are not actually streaked with black spray paint!

9.19.2018

Boldness produces STRENGTH.

Sunday.
Wow. What a sermon!
Though I have been sitting under excellent expository teaching since I was twelve years old, I never cease to be amazed by the impact of a powerful sermon. Pastors who speak the truth with passion and courage, no matter how unpopular, are the men I want to listen to and learn from, and then implement their teaching into my personal life. Praise God for men who daily bury themselves in God's Word, and then share the truth, the wisdom, and the encouragement they find within its pages with the body of Christ week after week! They are treasures.

Our text:
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16

"Made Strong"

- Exasperation and exhaustion in any and all areas of life can cause us to want to give up.
- We must be made STRONG in the Lord in order to endure the difficulties of life.
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10
 - Grace = Divine energy!
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
I Corinthains 15:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. I Peter 5:10

➙The Exhortation v. 14
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
hold fast = to cling to someone (CHRIST!)
Don't give up! Don't turn back! Don't surrender!
HOLD ON to your public confession of Christ! 
... but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Hebrews 3:6

➙The Encouragement v. 15
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus understands us because He was LIKE US. Human - weak - tired - angry - tempted - sad.
Be encouraged!!! 
You have full access to the High Priest - Jesus Christ - and He is everything you need!
Jesus is ...
"The Son of God - mighty to save, and the son of man - ready to feel." J. C. Ryle
Though Jesus is exalted, He is NOT indifferent!
Jesus' fight with sin was greater than our fight because we yield to temptation - but He NEVER yielded! (like a boxer who goes the full 15 rounds instead of being knocked out in round 3)

➙The Expectation v. 16
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We must go before the Lord BOLDLY and EXPECTANTLY.
We should expect to receive mercy and grace because He promises to give it to us!
Our God gives Grace for our steps and Mercy when we stumble.
We also recieve Help!
When everything is falling apart, GO TO THE LORD for help!
Not yourself, not people, CHRIST!

"Come" = come and come and come again! (present tense verb)

Draw near constantly, through prayer.
Anytime. All the time. The Throne Room is ALWAYS OPEN!!!
Draw near candidly.
Boldly. Without fear. Open. Frank. Honest. Emotional. As you are!
Draw near confidently, with expectations.
Expectations of help in a time of need.
Time of need = a specific time, and a specific need
As your days, so shall your strength be. Deuteronomy 33:25

Thank You, Lord, that when we come weak and troubled before Your throne, boldly sharing all of our sorrows, You sympathize, You encourage, You help, and You make us strong.
You are such an amazing and good God!

9.18.2018

I want a disposition like his!

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing the praises of Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1, 2

This is one of my (many) favorite passages of Scripture.
I love it because it is a reminder that praise, honor, and gratefulness to our God are - a choice.
We decide if we will praise Him or ignore Him.
We choose to give thanks for all He has done, or complain about what He has not.
We choose to proclaim His deeds to those around us - or remain silent.
We decide if we will rejoice in Him or rebel against His will because it does not match our own.

Two verses.
Two verses packed with a challenge. Will we match the passionate commitment of the Psalmist?
I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing the praises of Your name, O Most High.

Out of curiosity, and because I find word studies fascinating, I looked up the verb "will" in the dictionary and found the definition perfectly fitting.
will 
1—used to express a future event
2—used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent
3—used to express a command, exhortation, or injunction
4—used to express frequent, customary, or habitual action or natural tendency or disposition
5—used to express probability
6—used to express inevitability, determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness
7—used to express capability or sufficiency

Can you hear the heart of the Psalmist echoed in those descriptions?
desire
choice
habitual action
disposition
persistence
inevitability

An excellent reminder that we must be purposeful and thoughtful about thanking, talking about, rejoicing in, and praising our God. And if we are purposeful, perhaps one day "I will" shall become "I do" and "I am" because like the Psalmist, we, too, will possess a disposition of habitual rejoicing in our God!
I do give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
I do tell of all Your wonderful deeds.
I am glad and rejoice in You;
I am singing the praises of Your name, O Most High.

May it be so, Lord. May it be so!

9.13.2018

I "have to" - and I am GRATEFUL!

Spending time studying the Vigorous Woman in Proverbs 31 filled my mind with dozens of thoughts, questions, and ponderings.
First and foremost, I had to ask myself, "Am I a vigorous woman?!?"
Then followed considerations such as, "Do I work hard to care for and meet the needs of my family?"
"Do I fill my time with good things, purposeful things, things that bless my husband and my children?"
"Am I busy serving my family and others or am I idle?" (idleness is not the same as rest)
"Do I have a vision for the future and plan accordingly?"
"Does my work glorify God and bless others?"

These questions have been rolling over and over in my mind, and last night I was not able to go to sleep because of the rolling. I kept thinking of all the things I need to do/have to do to run our home, serve Dennis, and train our children. I started with the first moment I open my eyes in the morning, moved through the details of a typical day, and recorded the plethora of items that flooded my mind.
When I looked back over the list after the last wave finally washed over my mind, I smiled.
I smiled because the Lord opened my eyes wide to show me that while there are many things I
"have to do," they are not burdens. They are BLESSINGS!

I have to ... 
Wake up early because ... I have a family who needs me to serve them and prepare them for the day
Wash dishes because ... my family has food to eat
Do multiple loads of laundry because ... my family has clothes to wear and keep them warm
Clean bathrooms because ... my family has clean water with which to brush teeth and bathe
Sweep and mop floors because ... my family has feet to walk and play
Grocery shop because ... the Lord provides money to buy food for our family
Go shoe and clothes shopping because ... the Lord provides money to cover my family
Prepare lesson plans because ... we have the freedom to homeschool
Teach my children because ... I have children who are able/willing to learn
Make meals because ... my family is healthy and able to eat
Drive teenagers to work because ... they have jobs and are learning hard work and responsibility
Drive teens/children to sports practice because ... they are healthy and able to move
Get everyone ready for church because ... we have freedom of religion and a church family
Exercise because ... I am alive and healthy enough to move
Pay our bills because ... the Lord provides a job for Dennis to support our family
Buy hay and rabbit food because ... we have a pet to love and enjoy
Fill up the gas tank and maintain the van because ... we have a vehicle to drive that holds our family
Pay for health insurance because ... our family is taken care of when sick or injured
Say goodbye to Dennis every day because ... he has a job that provides for our family
Wash and change sheets because ... we have beds to sleep in
Trim bushes and pull weeds because ... we are surrounded by the beauty of God's foliage
Organize bookshelves and closets because ... our children have books to read and games to play
Restart Wifi multiple times because ... I can communicate with people around the world
Plan for birthdays and holidays because ... there are always reasons to celebrate
Go through trials because ... they force me to fall deeper into the outstretched arms of God
Die to self because ... Dennis and my children need me to love God, and them, more than I love myself
Pray and read the Word because ... I am dependent on God for all things

I am committing myself to eliminate the phrase "I have to" from my vocabulary and replace it with the phrase, "I GET to!" because serving my family, and working hard to bless them is a PRIVILEGE, not a chore. Thank You, Lord, for opening my eyes to this beautiful truth!

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17 

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Proverbs 31:17 

She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. Proverbs 31:19

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 3:17

9.12.2018

A woman of VIGOR!

Another excellent study with my girls!
We dove right into our discussion on this month's attribute of the Proverbs 31 woman and did not take a breath until the last "Amen" was spoken in our closing prayer time.
It was lively, interesting, convicting, and uplifting, and after each person spoke, someone from the group shared a word of encouragement and praise - just for her. I LOVE when they do that for each other!
We are already eager to begin the next study!

I pray you will be encouraged by this lesson. 

The Proverbs 31 monthly assignment:
- listen to the entire sermon and then listen (again) to the specific point we are studying
- record the areas in which you already see success - and - where  you need to grow and mature 

The first character quality we studied - VIRTUE.

This month's character quality - VIGOR.

What a Woman of Vigor looks like:

❃ She is a worker, a busy bee
❃ She has a zest for life, and her satisfaction in her work is a catalyst for the zest
❃ She has an irrepressible desire to bless her family
❃ She is the opposite of the sluggard
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. v. 31
❃ She is up early, preparing for the day
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens. v. 15

❃ She is not idle
❃ Because she is purposefully busy, she can protect herself from sin because there is little/no time for idleness, gossip, meddling in the business of others, complaining or whining
❃ She cares for the home
❃ She prepares everyone for their day
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. v. 27
❃ She plans ahead for the needs of her family
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. v. 21
❃ She has vision
❃ She is orderly and disciplined
❃ She is thoughtful
❃ She is not overwhelmed by thoughts of the future
❃ She can laugh at the future because she is prepared, and she is prepared because she planned
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. v. 25
❃ God is a worker, so she is a worker!
❃ Her work glorifies God
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. v. 30
❃ Her work blesses others, especially her family
❃ She pours herself into others (she is a faucet - not a sink!)
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


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

9.10.2018

The Eastman Academy 2018-2019. School is in session!


The Eastman Academy is OPEN for education!
We are celebrating our 14th year of homeschooling - and we are thankful!

Our 2018-19 THEME:

Pursuing Wisdom
When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
Proverbs 4:3-9

Our Scripture Memory Challenge:
Proverbs 2 and Proverbs 3

Let the Learning Begin!






Our High School Students!
(This photo collage completely sums up their relationship - 
and the disdain in the first photo is genuine, not staged.
A rebuke may or may not have been given during the photo shoot. <grin>)


Luke - Senior!


Caleb - Freshman!


Our Elementary Students!


Josiah - 5th Grade


Isaiah - 4th Grade


Ellie - 3rd Grade 


 The Eastman Academy now has an Alumnus!
It just wouldn't be right to leave out the graduate since ...
Once an Eastman ALWAYS an Eastman!

9.09.2018

THIS is what we do with it!

I just committed to a 15-week study of Systematic Theology in a Sunday school class - and I am excited!
I spent a year in college (2.7 decades ago) plunging into this very topic and thought a refresher course would be a grand idea. This morning's lesson included the Introduction and an overview of the entire course. I was pleased to find that the vocabulary and definitions were familiar, and the concepts were like rediscovering old friends. (I am sure my theology professor would be pleased to know how well his lessons were digested and retained!) I am eager to spend the next few months hearing about, reading through, and meditating on the beauty of theology, specifically systematic theology, which teaches us how to discover what the entire Bible has to say about any given topic.
Sunday morning worship is meant to equip the saints, and between our pastor's teaching in the first hour, and this class in the second, I will have plenty of tools with which to work throughout the week!
And I am thankful.

Within the eight-page packet of notes printed for us, there was one section that popped off the pages and made me want to dig deeper. The title of this little section:
What Do We Do With An Inspired And Inerrant Bible?
- Love it
- Read it
- Memorize it
- Meditate on it
- Study it
- Listen to it
- Obey it
- Teach it
- Preach it
- Counsel/Disciple with it
- Defend it
- Evangelize with it
What a fantastic list!
My first thought was, "Find verses to support each one!" And so, that is how I spent my afternoon. It was a wonderful way to close the day.

What Do We Do With An Inspired And Inerrant Bible?

Love it 
How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

➛ Read it 
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

➛ Memorize it 
I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11

➛ Meditate on it
... but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

➛ Study it 
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. II Timothy 3:14, 15

➛ Listen to it
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

➛ Obey it
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. John 14:23, 24

➛ Teach it
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19, 20

➛ Preach it
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. II Timothy 4:2

➛ Counsel/Disciple with it
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. II Timothy 3:16, 17

Defend it
He (elders) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Titus 1:9

Evangelize with it
How then can they call on the One in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14, 15

May we faithfully live these out, cherishing God's Word so we can declare with the Psalmist,
"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97

9.06.2018

A fantastic FRUIT!


But the fruit of the Spirit is
love,
joy,
peace,
patience,
kindness,
goodness,
faithfulness,
gentleness,
self-control ...
Galatians 5:22

I love this little corner of our home.
A corner that has no function, but serves as a sweet space to be used to encourage and remind.
The Bible is the main resident of the table, and next to it sits a small stand which holds one of my favorite purchases. Watercolors that reflect the Fruit of the Spirit. 
I rotate the cards every few weeks, each one acting as a megaphone for Scripture.
Though there is but one word, the context is familiar. And each time I pass by, it's as though the card itself shouts, "Look at me! What do you see? What does it mean? Why does it matter?"
And I hear the memorized phrase run through my mind. "The fruit of the Spirit IS ..."
This is a good thing.
My mind never stops. It is always thinking, planning, wondering, praying, pondering. I love having an active mind, but activity can drown silence. To be still and listen to the Lord, I must quiet my mind. And to keep my thoughts focused on Christ and things of eternity, I have to place things before my eyes that force them to look UP. So, I do! 
Every room in our home has Scripture in it. It has to. For me, it has to be the focus, for there are too many things that fight for control of my thoughts and my affections, and without God's Word ever before me throughout the day, I am prone to forget Him as my thoughts wander hither and yon. 
I loved these watercolor reflections of the Fruit of the Spirit the moment I saw them almost three years ago and knew exactly what I would do with them once they were mine.
This is it! They have a prominent place in our home, in the direct line of traffic, where everyone who passes through sees them, repeatedly, every day.
I don't know how often the other seven Eastmans see the displayed fruit and reflect upon it, but for me, it is a sweet and precious reminder of what my Father desires to see in His children, and what I am able to display through the help, conviction, and encouragement of the Holy Spirit.
And for this - I am grateful. ♥

Some verses that focus on "kindness" that we can ponder together.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31, 32

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. I Corinthians 13:4

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself. Proverbs 11:17

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.
Proverbs 21:21

And my favorite use of the word KINDNESS in the Bible ...
The kindness of God leads you to repentance. Romans 2:4

9.04.2018

What I want. But I need to want it MORE.

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
Psalm 42:1, 2

I want this.
The longing.
The desire.
The singular focus.

But it will not just happen.
I have to stir up the desire.
Increase the longing.
Fix my eyes in one place.
On the face of my God.

It is a worthy pursuit.
I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently find Me. Proverbs 8:17

And when we find Him, we can share the enthusiasm of the Psalmist who declares,
You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

This prayer echoes my heart. I am both encouraged and convicted that a man of such godly character cried out for the very thing my own heart desires. I will never love my God perfectly, but He knows I do love Him, and He will be patient with my human weaknesses and failings until I learn to love Him and want Him more.

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still." - A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

May we seek God more diligently today than we did yesterday.

9.03.2018

This and that.

We enjoyed a terrific summer as a family!
Mission trips.
Beach days.
Family nights.
Camp.
Dennis and Micah traveling overseas.
Museums, park days, skating.
Church.
Friends.
Ministry.
Movies and games.
It was a great summer!
And we are thankful for the fun, relaxation, and time together as a family, especially as we are about to dive into a full year of homeschooling, athletics, ministry events, and everything else that takes place in family life - including the unexpected.
We have no idea what the Lord has in store for the 2018-2019 school year, but HE KNOWS, and He has already gone before us, so we will walk by faith and trust Him with the details.

Speaking of the unexpected ...
Please pray for Dennis' mom, Ginny.
She was recently diagnosed with a rare form of
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and started treatment last week.
We are beyond thankful that Dennis returned home from his overseas travel in time to drive up north to spend this past weekend with her.
Her first round of treatment was mild, so she was feeling good and in great spirits during their days together.
They enjoyed a lovely afternoon with D's sister, Denise, and her family, lounging in the backyard, eating, talking, and laughing, and then spent time together over breakfast the following morning before Dennis headed home.
How grateful we are that Mom felt good for this visit!
None of us know what to expect in the weeks and months ahead, so we will rejoice in the GOOD days and praise God for His presence and His peace in the not-so-good days. ❤ We love you, Mom! ❤

Does anyone remember PEN PALS?
A sweet sister in Christ and one of our faithful letter writers for our miscarriage ministry asked if Ellie would be interested in becoming a Pen Pal with her daughter. They are the same age, so it seemed a perfect fit.
I didn't even ask Ellie if she would be interested because I already knew she would LOVE it!
And I was correct in my assumption.
The day that letter came in the mail Ellie was beside herself with excitement!
These girls have never met, but they are already bonding through the written word. And it is a beautiful thing.
In this day of social media, when birthday greetings are sent in a text and party invitations come through virtual mail, receiving a hand-written note in the mailbox is a DELIGHT!
Who else wants to join the Pen Pal fun?!?
Let the joy of writing and receiving hand-written letters COMMENCE!

How many of you are kindred bibliophiles?
How many of you have ridiculously long Amazon Wishlists - filled with books, books, BOOKS?
How many of you actually finish one book before starting another? <grin>
I currently have a dozen biographies patiently sitting in my Wishlist - just WAITING to be purchased and read with fervor!
And along with the books is an actual (and adorable) Phone Book - because - OLD SCHOOL is a beautiful thing!
#toomanybooks #toomanyGOODbooks #needanotherlifetimetoreadthemall

Only SEVEN days until The Eastman Academy opens its doors for the 2081-2019 school year!
We used to start in late August when Dennis began his new school year because once he was back in the classroom, our summer was officially over.
But Biola has changed their academic calendar, which means the Eastman Academy changes its calendar too!
I am excited about the year ahead!
Our course of study (Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie):
- history, the middle ages
- science, zoology (flying creatures)
- grammar/reading
- spelling
- math
- Bible (memorizing Proverbs 2 & 3)
- P. E.
Luke and Caleb will do most of their courses through BYA, but will still be home three days a week so we can enjoy them!
Our 14th year! Let the Educational Games BEGIN!

Ellie was the ecstatic recipient of this electric moped when one of her sweet friends moved out of state and had to leave it behind.
Not one day goes by without it being hauled out of the garage and thoroughly enjoyed in our backyard, or up and down the neighborhood sidewalks.
At first, everyone rode it independently.
Then, all of a sudden, Ellie and Isaiah became tandem riders - laughing and hooting and cheering the entire time they are circling the yard.
They take turns driving and have a grand time together.
(Josiah rides it too, but his legs are so ridiculously long he can barely stay on the bike! <smile>)
We call it the Bonding Bike!

➤ Here's to a new week!
May we intentionally look for ways to ENCOURAGE, SUPPORT, and SERVE others as we go about our daily business, careful not to waste the time we have been given, but to use our time for the glory of God and the good of others.
Happy Monday, everyone!

9.02.2018

An excellent way to begin the day!

Let the first words out of your mouth while still on your pillow be a cry to God,
"I need You again today."
 - John Piper

And then, read, meditate on, and pray back these truths to the Lord!

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. I Peter 5:7

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Corinthians 12:9

And pray with CONFIDENCE, for our God is a faithful God who cannot lie and does not change.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Praise Him for this truth, and for His promises!
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:21-24


AMEN! A-MEN!

8.31.2018

Happy Birthday, Luke!


17 years.

Seventeen years of humor, creativity, affection, and serving.
These are the things you have willingly, and often, given to our family, and we are better because of it!

You are a natural leader, Luke.
You are strong, confident, logical, and undeterred by any obstacle.
You are a problem solver. Quick to see what needs to be done and always ready with a solution.
You lead with grace, listening to the opinions of others and considering the best options after stepping back to observe, ponder, and draw conclusions based on facts.
You seek out men who are older, more mature, more experienced, and who have walked with God far longer than you have to speak truth, share wisdom, and challenge you as a man and a child of God.
And son, this is important. 

Natural leaders can rely on Self more often than the Savior because they are capable. Trusted. Sought out. Admired. But Scripture warns against reliance on Self and is quite clear that any gift, strength, skill we possess is a gift from God, not a result of our own doing or our own greatness.
I challenge you to read and memorize the passages of Scripture that speak of humility, for as you grow in maturity, leadership, and wisdom, the enemy will feed your ego, whispering lies in your ear that you are your greatest asset, and you will find yourself a human lawnmower like your brother Nebuchadnezzar.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 14:11

Surround yourself with men who will push you toward Christ.
Surround yourself with men who love God more than you do.
Surround yourself with men who will challenge your thinking.
Surround yourself with men who respect you but are not intimidated by you.
Learn from them.
Listen to them.
Let them see you, the real you, and then sharpen you with the iron of biblical friendship.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you,
with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time
He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:5-8

You are a blessing and a joy to our family, Luke Samuel, and I cannot imagine life without you!

Happy Birthday, son.
I love you.
Mom

8.30.2018

TRUTH!


I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away,
and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing. 
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love.
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 15:1-5, 9-11

8.29.2018

The sweet value of Scripture.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 19:7-11

I love this passage of Scripture.
My 3rd-grade teacher taught us a song to help us memorize it, and I still remember it today!

In a recent Sunday morning Scripture reading (the quiet time I cherish each week in the empty sanctuary), this was the Psalm for the day, and I was struck by the adjectives the Lord used to describe His Word.
perfect
sure
right
pure
clean
true
All easy adjectives to understand - and - evoke a specific image. Even so, I wanted to do a word study and find the definition of each one. And I am glad I did! The definitions make the adjectives seem even stronger, especially when viewed in light of God's character.

perfect = being entirely without fault or defect

sure = firmly established

right = being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper

pure = free from what spoils, weakens, or pollutes, containing nothing that does not properly belong, free from moral fault or guilt

clean = free from dirt or pollution, free from contamination or disease

true = being in accordance with the actual state of affairs, conformable to an essential reality,
fully realized or fulfilled

Inserting these definitions into the passage would make it read thusly:
The law of the Lord is entirely without fault or defect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is firmly established, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are in accordance with what is just, good, or proper, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is free from what spoils, weakens, or pollutes, containing nothing that does not properly belong, free from moral fault or guilt, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is free from dirt or pollution, free from contamination or disease, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are in accordance with the actual state of affairs, conformable to an essential reality, fully realized or fulfilled, and righteous altogether.

Isn't that a wonderfully clear and detailed description of who God is and how He wrote His Word?
I love it!

But wait! There's more! This section of the chapter ends with a delightful description of the value of God's Word, and the promise of a reward for those who obey His commands and keep His law.
More to be desired are they (they = the laws, testimonies, precepts, commandments, and rules of the Lord) than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

This last verse brings to mind this gem in the New Testament.
But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Praise for such rich truths sewn into every page of Scripture! It is worth more than gold and it does taste better than the sweetest honey on earth. But until we open the Book and dig through what is buried inside, we will never discover the treasure or taste the sweetness of His Divine design.

So, friends! Let's start digging!

Seeing an old college friend!

When you get to visit with a college friend/brother in Christ while he is in town and has a few free hours during a business trip - it is a GOOD day!
We haven’t seen each other in 23 years (other than social media spaces) so we had a LOT to catch up on. And we covered it all!
Jeremy and I enjoyed many thoughtful conversations during our Master's College days, and it was wonderful to hear how the Lord is working in his life now as a husband, father, and business owner. His passion for leading others toward Christ - and encouraging them to love Him more - has increased tenfold since he was a teenager. I can only imagine what he will accomplish for the Kingdom in the decades to come!
Thank you for making time to visit, Jeremiah!
It was an encouraging and joyful exchange, as always.

8.26.2018

TOGETHER!


He’s HOME!
He’s HOME!
He’s HOME!
We are TOGETHER.
And it is GOOD.
๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’—

8.25.2018

Seriously?


Apparently, I can wheel about a rink balancing on 4” high skates for two hours with nary a scratch,
but I cannot walk through my own family room without breaking my toe.
๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ™„
#ninedaysbeforeschoolstarts
#notimeforridiculousinjuries
#ihavethingstodo
#goodthingdennisishome
#looooooongeyeroll

Happy Birthday, Josiah!


11 years!

The Lord brought you into our family eleven years ago, and life has never been the same.
You were a quiet, observant, content baby and toddler, and everyone adored you.
You had nothing but smiles and affection to offer, and every one of us gladly accepted them!

You are the same today.
It is your nature, Josiah. How God created you.
You are sensitive, thoughtful, quick to offer assistance and the first to notice when someone is being left out or ignored. You defend the weak and stand up for the underdog.
And you do so because you, too, are an underdog.

You (literally) did not speak for three years but for a few words. We didn't know at the time, but it was the first sign that you had dyslexia. You watched, listened, and took everything in that was going on around you, but you could not push out what you were seeing and experiencing through words.
But you were joyful and content. You didn't need words to enjoy life. You just needed to know you were accepted and loved. And you were. By everyone. Which gave you confidence!
As you grew, however, you realized you could not make your mind work the way you wanted it to, and frustration began to creep in. You didn't understand why everyone else could read, but you could not. There was no shame, for you were safe at home with your family, but there was confusion.
We worked hard - together - and when you were eight years old, the Lord rewarded your efforts and blessed you with the ability and the gift of being able to read! What a WONDERFUL day that was!

You are not a rough, tough, athletic, physical boy.
You love to play and you have an adventurous spirit,
but you would much rather lose yourself in a story or art than jump over hurdles or kick soccer balls.
You are a thinker. A planner. A boy who loves (and needs) details.
You enjoy conversation and want to know what is going on with everyone around you.
And you love God's Word. You love people. You love being a leader.
And it is my prayer that the Lord will pull all of these qualities together and use you to do Kingdom work and glorify Him with your strengths, talents, and skills.

As it is with all of us, strengths also act as weaknesses.
Your love of details can overwhelm you and others.
Your desire to lead can cause you to lord it over others.
Your love for God's Word can cause you to see the flaws in others without seeing your own.
Pray over these, Josiah, fervently and often.
And ponder these verses as you pray:

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23, 24

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.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

Our God is faithful, Josiah. He is merciful and gracious and filled with loving kindness.
He will always give you the wisdom and strength you need when you ask for it, and He will always be your greatest helper, your greatest support, and your greatest encourager.
Seek Him daily.
Love Him fervently.
Confess constantly.
And then walk with confidence and joy in the blessings that flow from obedience.

We love you, Josiah Timothy!
You are a bright, empathetic, loving, and thoughtful boy, and we are grateful to call you OURS!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

8.24.2018

Rolling FUN!

Today was so much FUN!
Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie and I went ROLLER SKATING!
Yes, you read that right. I laced up a pair of size 11 skates on my own feet! Since our health insurance does not provide nannies, cooks, or maids, I have refrained from activities that could land me in a cast for the past eighteen years. But now? All six kids are old enough to fend for themselves if necessary, so there was no reason not to skate! (I was smart enough to wait until the day before Dennis got home just in case a cast was in my future!)
Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie rolled right onto the floor of the rink and their wheels never stopped turning.
Me? It took twenty laps to loosen my feet - and - my grip on the handrail, but after that, I was skating footloose and fancy-free. I didn't even fall!
It was fantastic!
As I took my final laps around the rink I thought,
"I should take lessons to learn the tricks and gain speed and then throw an adult Skate Party for my 50th birthday and surprise my family and friends with superb skating skills!" And then I laughed and laughed.
The four of us skated together for two straight hours, and enjoyed every minute of it!



Josiah took this photo so I would have proof for Dennis and the teens that I actually skated!




I think the invisible fine print on this sign reads, "If you break a limb because you have no idea what you are doing but think you're cool - sorry for you! We won't pay any of your medical bills!"


Not only did we clock 5,000 steps and over two miles during our skate, we must have burned off at least five pounds! (Apparently, the discounted price for "open skate" is balanced by the lack of air conditioner use in the rink.) We were bright red and glistening with sweat at the end of the session.
But look at those smiles! Worth every roll of the skates!

8.23.2018

An ANCIENT Outing!

We finally made it!
The Getty Villa!
This field trip officially closed off our study of the ancients - and it was worth every single second of the two-hour drive through traffic to get there!
If you love ancient history and antiquities, put this beautiful museum on your Must See list!
And if you don't find antiquities thrilling, visit anyway! The architecture and gardens alone will make you grateful you took the time to explore such an aesthetically pleasing place.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and were blessed with perfect weather to make it even better!
What better way to spend a summer day than touring a replica of ancient beauty and feeling the cool breeze blowing in from the ocean in Malibu!
Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie could not stop talking about everything they saw as we drove home, and Ellie declared, "I am SO taking my kids there when I am a mom!" Yes! A successful adventure!




This audio tour - FANTASTIC!
The museum created a tour based on the Percy Jackson series (mythology) and the end result was finding your ancient "godparent" based on your personality and which ancient characters you were most drawn to. Quite clever and humorous.
Josiah was a descendant of Bacchus/Dionysius.
Ellie belonged to the lineage of Athena/Minerva.
Isaiah came directly from the top of the mythological food chain, Jupiter/Zeus.
And I was the goddaughter of Apollo.
Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie were fully engaged with this tour and had a blast!


I'll let you guess who is who!


They were awed by the reflecting pool.





This grape arbor had dozens of bunches of green and purple grapes growing on it.
I could have spent an entire afternoon sitting underneath it reading a book!


We were all enthralled with the gorgeous lily pads.
I have never seen such gorgeous (or large) flowers budding from lily pads before!




Even the parking structure has art!

8.22.2018

Do not be anxious. TRUST!

Our shepherd was feeding different sheep on Sunday, so we enjoyed the preaching of another pastor. And he was wonderful! His message was fitting, timely, and one that can be referred to over and over again. "Rest to the Glory of God."
I wrote as fast and as detailed as I could make my hand move in order to record his words. I closed my notebook feeling encouraged, refreshed and praising God for His promise in Scripture,
"... for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5, 6

I hope you are encouraged by these truths!

➤ The Text: Matthew 6:25-34
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

➤ The Command (v. 25)
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
● the moment we try to take control (of anything), anxiety sets in - because - we are not meant to have control! God is the one in control - all the time.
● anxious = divided/worried/concerned/uneasy/apprehensive/fearful/troubled/bothered/disturbed/distressed/fretful/agitated/tense/overwrought
● rest = a demonstration of TRUST

➤ The Illustration (v. 26, 27)
1. The birds
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Birds do not give one thought to tomorrow. They wake up each morning, fly around, search for food, and find it! Because God provides for them. If God will provide for birds, He will provide for us!
(our NEEDS - not our wants)
● Even if you decide to worry (for it IS a CHOICE!), it has absolutely no benefit, and your worry changes absolutely nothing.
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
2. The fields
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? God clothes the fields. He will provide for us.
● consider = ponder, look, observe, soak in
We must learn to take time to appreciate the most minute of details in God's creation.
"Look at the flowers!" (Jesus)
● When Jesus declares, "O you of little faith," He is saying, in effect, "Don't you realize who you are with?!? TRUST ME!"
● Danger and difficulty reveal that we are NOT in control, for we would never choose either.
GOD is in control. Always.

➤ The Application (v. 31-34)
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.● Stop being anxious! It has to stop!
● You cannot be joyful and anxious at the same time.
We are commanded to BE joyful - and commanded NOT to be anxious.
● We dishonor God when we do not trust Him. We are saying, "You can't handle this."
● We honor God when we ask for His will to be done, even when we don't understand or like it.
We are saying, "You can do ANYthing, Lord!"
With tomorrow's trials come the grace (God's grace) to sustain us in the trials. His mercies are new EVERY morning!
● Not WHAT IF ---> but EVEN IF (I LOVE this!)

Lord! Thank You for such an encouraging, thoughtful, and uplifting message! You are God. You are on Your throne. You make the sun rise and the rivers flow. You know our thoughts before we do and You know our needs before we tell You. As often as we 'think' we have control, we never do. And this is a GOOD thing, Lord, for as much as we hate suffering and wish it never had to be endured, we know that everything You do is perfect - and necessary. For Your glory and our good. Thank You.