10.21.2019

Mindful Monday. "God's Silence - Then What?"


From the pen of Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest.

When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. John 11:6

Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning?
God’s silences are actually His answers.
Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life?
Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer?
God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response?
When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.
If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes.
The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty.
Time is nothing to God.
For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.”
His silence is the very proof that He has.
As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence.
If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.

10.20.2019

A gift that will keep giving!

My favorite birthday gift this year was this ring of cards, filled with words of kindness, affection, and
love from my children. Each child had four cards to fill and they wrote something specific and different on each one.
It is the size of a business card, small, yet packs a powerful punch of encouragement when opened because words are powerful!
This precious gift now rests on the kitchen windowsill above the sink (where I wash dishes/bottles 27 times a day) and makes me smile every.single.time I see it.
❤ Thoughtfulness is priceless! ❤

Receiving words of encouragement on paper, written by the very hand of the one showing such kindness is a precious gift.
In twenty years, or on a day when we feel forgotten and alone, we can pull out the notes, letters, cards graciously given by others and find refreshment, encouragement, and hope once again - from the very same words written years before.
What a valuable reminder of the power of GOOD WORDS!
They can breathe new life into a heart and mind over and over again.
Especially when they echo the words of the greatest encourager who gives US life!

May we seek to encourage one another in tangible ways this week - and - pray specifically for the "who" so we can be that cool, refreshing cup of water for the weary soul who needs our kindness most.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15:4

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply, and how good is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23

10.16.2019

We have one job.

Today, Dennis and I had the privilege of attending a Donor Appreciation Luncheon with our foster
agency.
Olive Crest graciously invited foster families to attend the event, and we said, "Yes!" without knowing what to expect.
But the Lord knew exactly why He had us there.
The keynote speaker aimed an arrow right at my heart, confirming the stirrings that have been dwelling there, and had me crying happy, confused, wondering, frustrated, hopeful tears on the drive home.

After praying, listening to one of my favorite worship songs on a loop, and calling a sweet and encouraging fellow foster/adopt friend, the Lord quieted my heart and encouraged me with His ever-precious still, small voice.
As if He whispered, "Don't look at the obstacles, daughter. All you need to do is step forward in obedience. I will take care of the rest."

So we will keep moving forward in our foster care journey, trying our very best not to look around at the sometimes overwhelming circumstances - but keep our eyes UP - trusting the Lord with every detail and every decision.
He is the One giving orders.
Our job?
OBEY.
We overestimate what is required to make a difference.
We underestimate what we have to offer. 

- Jason Weber 
National Director of Foster Care Initiatives for the Christian Alliance of Orphans

Scripture journaling! A most appreciated challenge!

One of the best challenges I ever received was to keep a Scripture Journal.
The purpose is simple.
Every time I read the Bible, I write down the verse or passage that hits me between the eyes. Encouragement, conviction, comfort, a call to action - it matters not. I write it in the journal.
Sometimes copying the Scriptures is enough, and sometimes doing so spurs thoughts, questions, or prayer - all of which are recorded on the pages.
One day I may scratch out one or two verses, while another day finds me copying entire chapters because they are treasure chests full of Scriptural gems.

I have kept dozens of journals over the decades, but not one of them has been as satisfying to fill as this one!

If you already possess and fill the pages of a Scripture Journal, you can attest to the blessing of doing so. If you have never pursued this discipline, I highly encourage you to give it a try! God's Word never returns void, so whether you write out one verse a day or one verse a week, you will reap the benefits of spending time in the pages of Scripture. ❤

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:10-11

10.14.2019

Mindful Monday. "Getting Into God's Stride."


Enoch walked with God… GENESIS 5:24

The true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening. A person’s worth is revealed in his attitude toward the ordinary things of life when he is not under the spotlight (see John 1:35-37 and John 3:30). It is painful work to get in step with God and to keep pace with Him— it means getting your second wind spiritually. In learning to walk with God, there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride, but once we have done so, the only characteristic that exhibits itself is the very life of God Himself. The individual person is merged into a personal oneness with God, and God’s stride and His power alone are exhibited.

It is difficult to get into stride with God, because as soon as we start walking with Him we find that His pace has surpassed us before we have even taken three steps. He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined in His ways. It was said of Jesus— “He will not fail nor be discouraged…” (Isaiah 42:4) because He never worked from His own individual standpoint, but always worked from the standpoint of His Father. And we must learn to do the same. Spiritual truth is learned through the atmosphere that surrounds us, not through intellectual reasoning. It is God’s Spirit that changes the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and then things begin to be possible which before were impossible. Getting into God’s stride means nothing less than oneness with Him. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don’t give up because the pain is intense right now— get on with it, and before long you will find that you have a new vision and a new purpose.

- Written by Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest

10.06.2019

A Wonderful Weekend of Birthday Family FUN!


The weekend ended with a Family Night.
Dinner, a leisurely walk, tossing a football at the local university ❤ TOGETHER! ❤
I LOVE my family!


The weekend began with a Friday morning pedicure date with Ellie
She was SO excited and could not stop looking at her sparkly blue toenails!


The afternoon found me watching Pride & Prejudice and then enjoying a delightful nap. 


In the evening, Isaiah and I went to In-N-Out for dinner and then to his flag football game.
Always a good time to watch my guys play ball!


The next day - a lunch date with Josiah!
Followed by an afternoon all.to.myself. (a rare occasion indeed)


Baby snuggles - a precious, precious gift!






The man who made it all possible!
Thank you, Dennis, for making me feel loved, appreciated, and wanted on my birthday.
❤ I love you! ❤

10.05.2019

48 years of life. 48 reasons to praise God!


For these ,,,  I am thankful!

48. Dennis - and 26 years of marriage. ❤
47. Micah
46. Luke
45. Caleb
44. Matthew
43. Josiah
42. Isaiah
41. Ellie
40. Family
39. Friendships that are steadfast and unshifting through the storms and trials of life
38. Authenticity
37. Faithfulness
36. Brothers and sisters who encourage and uplift those around them
35. Laughter
34. Thoughtfulness
33. Selflessness
32. People willing to sacrifice their comforts to serve the hurting and the broken
31. Compassion that spurs ACTION
30. Titus 2 men and women who willingly and graciously invest in younger brethren
29. Freedom to worship
28. The beauty of worshipping with the body of Christ
27. Creativity
26. The godly wisdom of those who have walked intimately with the Lord for decades
25. Vulnerability
24. Truth-tellers
23. The humility of others that literally makes them disappear while all glory is directed to God
22. Godly men who study, pray over and preach the Word of God with passion and without apology
21. Brothers and sisters who care more about holiness than happiness
20. Words of encouragement
19. Creation ... rain, wind, colorful flowers, ocean waves, giraffes
18. Health
17. Discernment exercised by the godly and the wise
16. People who ponder before answering/speaking (Proverbs 15:28)
15. Pleasant memories
14. Trials that produce maturity, strength, growth and greater dependency on the Lord
13. Repentance that leads to restoration
12. Visible fruit in the life of believers who are passionately pursuing Christ
11. People who do the right thing when it is not the "easy" thing
10. Being trusted to walk through the sins and struggles with a brother/sister in Christ
9. Gentleness
8. Kindness
7. Scripture - the beautiful, inspired, perfect word of God
6. Prayer - continual access to God every minute of every day
5. Forgiveness
4. Second-chances
3. Mercy
2. Grace
1. LIFE!

Let me live that I may praise You, and may Your laws sustain me. Psalm 119:175

10.02.2019

REJOICING - because I REMEMBERED!

When you have children with learning needs, you are always looking at hurdles that must be jumped.
Some appear conquerable and others loom overhead like Mount Everest.
But whether the hurdle is three feet high or 29,000 feet high, your children must jump over each one because every hurdle is completely immovable.
You know you either have to teach every child how to jump over them - or - throw them over your shoulders and jump for them until they are able to do so on their own.
There are sweet moments of victory and agonizing moments of defeat; for there are pieces you can manipulate, manage, and control, and pieces that slip through your fingers like sand. And sometimes? It feels like you and your children are drowning in the very sand that has slipped through your grasp.

BUT GOD.

He provides precious moments of insight. Moments when He peels back the curtain of the past, allowing you to peek inside and remember where they were and how far they have come.
He provides PERSPECTIVE.
As if He lovingly whispers, "Daughter, you look around and see row after row of hurdles, wondering how your children are ever going to jump over them all. But you forget to look behind you and remember how many have already been knocked down.
Four years ago they could not read. Three years ago you thought you would never be free from the chains of your children's educational weaknesses and needs. Two years ago they were unable to move forward in basic math. Last year they could not work independently in any school subject.
Do you remember, Michelle? Do you remember feeling absolutely overwhelmed? Do you remember feeling inadequate as both a teacher and a mother? Wondering if you would ever be able to meet their needs and push them on to success? Questioning every decision you made on their behalf? Questioning why I entrusted them to you when you felt completely inept to serve them?
Do you remember, child?
Because you must.
If you do not remember where they were - where you were - you cannot rejoice over how far all of you have come.
Your children can read!
Your children can work independently!
Your children know their addition/subtraction/multiplication tables!
They have learned to exhibit better self-control, think before speaking, and read the responses of those around them when they blurt out or speak inappropriately.
They have grown!
Matured. Learned.
And, daughter, so have you.
You cannot live in the past, but you must remember it. For when you remember all that I have done in and through your children, for My glory and their good, you will REJOICE.
And the hurdles will no longer appear as formidable foes, but obtainable opportunities."

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that You have done; I ponder the work of Your hands.
Psalm 143:5

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name;
make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
tell of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
seek His presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that He has done ...
Psalm 105:1-5

9.30.2019

Mindful Mondays.

The best way to begin a beautiful Monday?
With Scripture and thoughtful/challenging words from someone who walks with God!

(Diary excerpt from James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!")

April 16, 1854.
During the past week I have had one of the most severe asthmatic attacks I ever experienced. How painful to labor and gasp for breath, as I then did. How different the things of time appear under such circumstances! How soon one feels willing to spread the wings and fly away. May I daily live under the impression I then felt.

How I long . . .
for closer communion with God,
to feel more of the sweet power of piety in my own heart,
to walk with God in confidence,
to lean upon Him,
to cast every care upon Him,
to leave everything with Him,
to aim always, and in everything to glorify Him,
to walk through the world as if one was walking straight home to God - to dwell with and to enjoy Him forever!

Yet I feel that I need to be daily kept - to have the Lord's eye constantly upon me, and His everlasting arms always beneath me!

"Hold me up and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

9.28.2019

Remembering and Rejoicing - because of her thoughtfulness.

Almost four years ago, the Lord grabbed our family by the scruffs of our necks and
forced us to take a long, hard look at the way we spend our time.
He also exposed us to the intense need for orphan care by continually (almost weekly) bringing us in contact with families who fostered and/or adopted and needed encouragement and support as they walked through the transition and difficulties that accompany orphan care.
His calling was clear: STEP UP and SERVE, Eastmans!

Two months later He sat me across from an exhausted and overwhelmed friend who needed encouragement, understanding, and support to endure the trials of caring for the three foster children she and her husband had adopted. Her tears were sincere. Her tears were profound.
The Spirit's conviction was clear: Serve THIS family!

We obeyed.
And we were blessed.
We spent three years taking care of their children, and in that time, our friendship grew deep roots.
So it was no surprise when their family became our first, our loudest, and our most enthusiastic cheerleaders when we said, "Yes!" to becoming a foster family.
They prayed for us, encouraged us, asked hard questions, supported us financially, and listened.
They had walked miles in the foster/adoption world before we ever took our first step, and then joyfully took our hands and said, "You CAN do this! And we will be right beside you every step of the way."
And they have been faithful to that promise.


Because my friend has a gigantic heart and is constantly thinking of others and looking for ways to bring them joy, I was not surprised when she went out of her way to choose, package, and mail me an early birthday present because she will be galloping through the streets of her childhood on my actual birthday.
(Her passion for orphan care permeates everything she does - including gift selections.
I LOVE the necklace she chose for me!)

Learn to do right; seek justice. 
Defend the oppressed. 
Take up the cause of the fatherless; 
plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 1:17


Thank you, Julie, for years of faithful friendship.
You encourage me, you make me laugh, you challenge my thinking, and you model what true sacrifice really looks like. And best of all, you are 100% authentically YOU. Never do you pretend to be perfect, never do you pretend to have all of the answers, never do you try to be anything you are not.
You are just JULIE.
And JULIE is exactly who the world wants and needs! ❤
I love you, friend!

9.27.2019

A wonderful (and embarrassing) discovery!


Today I am rejoicing because I gained another year of LIFE!

I was bummed that I am turning 49 this year (because it sounds SO much closer to 50 πŸ˜†)
until I realized - I will TURN 48 in October!

Once again (for this is not the first time), I gave up an entire year of life because I always project the age of my next birthday the day after I celebrate the current one! 🀦🏻‍♀️πŸ™„

Once I did the math and realized I will ONLY be 48 I yelped,
“YES! I got a year back! I GOT A YEAR BACK!” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I’m sure this will happen again. And again. And again.
When I think I am turning 100, I will discover I am only 89!πŸ•ΊπŸ½πŸ’ƒπŸ»

The best part of this discovery?
I gained another year of life with THIS man! πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ’™πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

9.23.2019

Learning to Serve SelfLESSly.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

This is the theme verse for our school year.
Love. Affection. Honor.
Lovely sentiments, yes?
Unfortunately, when selecting this verse, I failed to take into account the incredibly competitive nature of the Eastman family line. A competitive mindset reads the word "outdo" and interprets it as "WIN! WIN! WIN!" Sometimes coupled with the lovely image of an Olympic athlete crossing the finish line in glory, and sometimes attached to the image of an MMA cage fight.
In the Eastman house, of late, it was the latter.

Instead of looking for ways to honor each other best, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie decided that to "outdo one another in honor" meant competing over who could care for Baby E best.
They fought over who would sit by him in the van. They fought over who would help give him a bath. Who would warm his bottle. Who would get him after his nap. Who would change his diaper. (Yes! I am serious!) And on and on and ON in went. <insert long eye roll and slap to the forehead>
At first, I thought it was funny that they were fighting about who could out-serve the baby. For about a day. And then I realized - they were being selfish in their serving. Selfish. In serving. The irony was great.

So, this morning, we spent our devotion time focusing on a different verse.
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 explained that while it is absolutely wonderful and honoring to the Lord that each of them wants to take care of Baby E, hip-checking your sibling into the wall so you can get to the crib faster is not the best way to go about it.
The desire to serve Baby E?  Fantastic!
The desire to be first - the desire to get your own way? Not so much.
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 

After a long discussion, prayer, questions, examples, and some laughter - they got it.
If we are going to serve foster babies and their families, we must also serve one another.
It will not always be easy. It will not always be fun. But it will always be right. ❤

In order to add ACTION to our new thinking, we sat at the table with a notebook and pen and wrote down the ways they had been selfish in serving Baby E. (They surprised me by adding two more items when I thought the list was complete!)
After listing all of the ways they can serve him each day, we created a "Serving Schedule" - together - each choosing (and agreeing on) the days of the week they wanted for every task.
And we had FUN!
(As Mary Poppins declared, "You find the fun and SNAP! The job's a game! 🎢And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake, a lark, a spree, it's very plain to see! 🎢)
When all was agreed upon, I made a final copy, we placed the sheet on the kitchen cabinet, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie read through the entire document (I love this photo!), and they walked away smiling and excited about the new "Serving Selflessly Schedule."
Friends, today was a ♥GREAT♥ day!

I am present during each of these tasks, of course, but if I am not careful, I could put Baby E to bed at night without ever having actually touched him during the day since there are three Eastmans constantly competing for his attention and affection.
I am not complaining, I assure you!
Witnessing the joy my children have for these foster babies and watching them mature and learn valuable life skills through the process makes my heart overflow with gratefulness that the Lord has called us to this ministry.
It makes me laugh that 'serving selfishly' is one of our foster care "problems."
But it also blesses me because it reminds me of something a wise, godly woman once said.
"God does not just call parents to foster care. He calls the FAMILY."

As unpleasant as it is to listen to selfish bickering as our kids throw elbows to feed oatmeal to the baby, I love that they WANT TO. Their zeal to serve may outweigh their compassion at times, but I will take a passion for serving over apathy any day!

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

9.16.2019

An excellent Monday Morning meditation!

Prayer is . . .
the mightiest weapon that God has placed in our hands,
the best weapon to use in every difficulty,
the surest remedy in every trouble,
the key that unlocks the treasury of promises,
the hand that draws forth grace and help in time of need,
the silver trumpet that God commands us to sound in all our necessity,
the cry He has promised always to listen to, just as a loving mother listens attentively to the cry of her child.

Be sure that no time is so well spent, as that which a man spends on his knees.

What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others?
I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits in private prayer.
I believe that those who are not eminently holy, pray little - and those who are eminently holy, pray much.

What is the cause of most backslidings?
I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is neglect of private prayer.
People are backsliders on their knees, long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world.

Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor.
Jesus can understand you!

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

- J. C. Ryle

9.14.2019

Easy? No. 100% absolutely worth it? YES!

A few days ago someone pronounced, "You make foster care look so easy!"
While I am confident the person meant it as a compliment, I almost choked on my drink.
Easy? As in little-or-no-effort-required easy? 
I doubt that particular adjective has ever been linked to the foster care world, and though I am not a prophet, I think it is safe to predict that they will not be linked together in the future.

The dictionary definition of "easy" reads:

easy adjective
\ ΛˆΔ“-zΔ“ \
1
a: causing or involving little difficulty or discomfort
b: requiring or indicating little effort, thought, or reflection
2
a: not severe: lenient
b: not difficult to endure or undergo
3
a: marked by peace and comfort
b: not hurried or strenuous
4
a: free from pain, annoyance, or anxiety
b: marked by social ease
5
a: giving ease, comfort, or relaxation
b: not burdensome or straitened

I have not met every foster parent, foster sibling, or extended family member in the foster care world, but the ones I have met? They would laugh out loud if someone read this definition, then looked up and asked, "Isn't that a fanTAStic description of what it is like to be a foster family?!"

Is there beauty in foster care?
Overwhelming moments of sweetness and joy?
Prayers answered?
Hurdles knocked down?
Miracles performed?
Fantastic opportunities to show the love of Christ to others?
Countless opportunities to educate and promote the need for and the joy of foster care?
Spiritual growth and sanctification?
Learning to trust God in the unknown?
Increased compassion after learning the "what" of the "why?"
Multiple opportunities to sacrifice comfort and self for the good of another?
The joy of investing in the life of a child?
The joy of investing in the life of a broken and hurting birth parent?
Milestones reached?
Goals accomplished?
Emotions magnified?
Sacrificial and unconditional love understood and expressed?
Yes!
Yes!
A thousand times YES!

But that is only one side of foster care. There is another.


Isolation.
Rejection.
Disappointment.
Sorrow.
Pain.
Fear. Of the unknown and the known.
Unanswered questions.
Answers no one wants.
Anger.
Distrust.
Resentment.
Suffering.
Unmet expectations.
Loss.

Any or all of these can be experienced by the child, the birth parents, and/or the foster family. Just as the joys of foster care can touch everyone involved, the isolation and sorrow can affect everyone too.

BUT GOD.

He has not called one of His children to a life of ease.
He has not called one of His children to a life of comfort.
He has not called one of His children to live without suffering or sorrow.
In fact, not only does He call us TO suffer, He commands us to rejoice IN our suffering!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes. Psalm 119:71


Foster care may have hundreds of hurdles to clear. It may be exhausting. It may stretch us farther than we ever thought we could possibly be stretched. It may push us to constant prayer and daily surrender because of the unknowns and potential dangers. It may require that we walk alone because there are few who share our passion or want to join us. It may require a level of sacrifice we didn't know existed.
All of these things may be true.
BUT GOD. 
He demands that it be done.
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 31:7-8

Like anything God calls us to do, we must obey. Immediately. "Delayed obedience is disobedience." (as a wise person once said) And our obedience must be tethered to purpose, passion, and JOY. For the Lord does not abandon those He calls. He equips. He encourages. He establishes our steps.
He has no choice but to do so! He is the Good Shepherd. And with the Lord as our Shepherd, we are never, ever in want.

Foster care may not be "easy," but it is wonderful. And absolutely, positively, without a single doubt, worth every second of effort, joy, sorrow, surrender, and sacrifice. And in all of it, both the delightful and the difficult, we can CHOOSE to have joy because it is not about us. It is about HIM!

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:58

9.04.2019

The Eastman Academy begins its 15th year!



Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie.
Our 2019-2020 Student Body!

Our theme for the year: Honor through serving
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10





Josiah - 6th grade


Isaiah - 5th grade


Ellie - 4th grade


Baby E is our honorary student because it is never too early to start learning!


Caleb - 10th grade
The Lord provided a wonderful alternative school option for Caleb this year, so while he is no longer a student at The Eastman Academy, he is a student and we want to celebrate him!


Micah - our first alumnus - beginning his second year of junior college.


 Luke - our second alumnus - beginning his first year of college.


Caleb and the graduates humored me by joining us for our back-to-school photo shoot.
And it made my mother's heart quite happy!



I LOVE this photo!

9.03.2019

A new tradition!


A new tradition was started today!
A PRE-SCHOOL DAY!

Now that all of my little people are not so little anymore, I decided to include them in planning our school schedule. It is THEIR school day after all!
All of our curriculum, notebooks, backpacks, pens, pencils, scissors etc., were placed on the dining room table along with blank sheets of paper for planning.
I’m not exactly sure what my expectations were, but Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie far exceeded them! Everyone had a voice, and surprisingly, they created a schedule without one argument.
(This is NOT normal in the Eastman world!)
We planned our field trips, made a wish list, and worked all of our core subjects around Baby E’s nap times. (Homeschooling with a one-year-old running around is not easy.)
Now - we are ready for Day 1 of the 2019-2020 school year!
Let the learning BEGIN!


I let them watch a movie in the middle of the day, so this photo captures their enthusiasm!


Sometimes the simplest things bring me the greatest joy! When shopping for a new school calendar, I stumbled upon this gem and could not stop giggling every time I looked at it.
Ellie declared, “Mom! You HAVE to get the giraffe calendar! You will be happy every time you see it!”
So Clara (yes, I named her) joined our family and will make me smile as she guides us through each week of our school experience. 

My girl knows me well! Thanks, Ellie!

9.02.2019

Happy Birthday, Luke!


18 years!
18 years ago the doctor literally had to force you into the world because you were unwilling to enter on your own. The first sign that Luke Samuel Eastman had his own mind and his own agenda.
And nothing has changed since then!
You are a young man of strength.
A young man of purpose.
A young man with ideas and plans.
A young man who knows what he wants and will do whatever it takes to get it.
These are excellent qualities when tethered to Scripture, humility, and sensitivity to others, and we have always prayed you would use your strengths, skills, and plans for good, willing to surrender every one of them if the Lord turned your feet in a different direction than the one you intended to travel.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

You are adventurous.
A risk-taker.
Fiercely loyal.
A great listener.
Willing to work.
Willing to serve.
A faithful friend.

As you enter college, purpose in your heart to pursue Christ more fiercely and more passionately than you pursue a career. Seek Him first - often - and with expectation. For when you seek Him, you will find Him!

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him,
if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33
I love those who love Me, and those who seek me diligently find Me.
Proverbs 8:17

♥ I love you, Luke Samuel. ♥
And I will keep dancing with you until the end of time.
Mom

9.01.2019

This.


I need Thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like Thine
can peace afford.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour,
stay Thou near by;
temptations lose their power
when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, 
in joy or pain;
come quickly, and abide,
or life is vain.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need thee every hour;
teach me Thy will,
and Thy rich promises
in me fulfill.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

8.29.2019

Thankful and BLESSED because he is here!

One month has passed since we brought Baby E home, and within the first three days, we were in
love!
Dennis and I awaken each morning to his giant smile beaming at us from across the room as he eagerly awaits being picked up and cuddled. And within minutes, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie file in and take turns greeting him, hugging him, and making him laugh. He is a rock star in the Eastman home - and he loves EVERY minute of it!

Baby E is happy, enthusiastic, active, affectionate, and continually rewards us with incredible smiles and wonderful hugs. He is the first person Caleb seeks out when he returns home, and Micah and Luke are quick to pick him up or laugh when greeted with his signature "Iron Man" move and "What's Up?" head nod. He brings joy to every Eastman and instantly draws out of our affectionate nature. The vote is unanimous! We all adore Baby E! ♥

I receive a double portion of joy because I have the privilege of spending eight hours with his mom - every week! Eight hours of watching her engage with her son. Eight hours of watching him respond to his mom. Talking, laughing, singing songs, reading books, playing games, eating, peek-a-boo, rocking together while he drinks his bottle, hugging and kissing each other. She can make him laugh so hard his smile is ready to crack his face in two. And I enjoy every.single.moment. Not only am I granted the delight of witnessing sweet exchanges between mother and son, but the Lord has also created a comfort and a trust between us. We greet each other with smiles and hugs, her son practically leaps out of my arms to get to her, and we enjoy conversation and laughter during our visits. How precious it is to be invited into the life and heart of another!

We don't know how long Baby E will be a part of our family, but we are thankful he is here now. ❤

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

Each time I pick up a child to join our family until he/she can return home, the Lord attaches a song to our meeting. The reason is not always obvious to me in the beginning but becomes as clear as crystal as the days roll on. Since music ministers to me in a unique way, I am continually thankful that the Lord chooses this medium to encourage me and draw my thoughts, emotions, and affections toward Him ... especially when they have been tempted to look elsewhere.

Only You - David Crowder
Take my heart, I lay it down
At the feet of You whose crowned
Take my life, I'm letting go
I lift it up to You who's 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

8.27.2019

Seeking Him in the stillness.


 Sorrow and suffering ... there is no shortage.
Nor will there ever be this side of heaven.

Broken relationships.
Financial hardships.
Job difficulties.
Health struggles.
Strained marriages.
Wayward children.
Anniversaries of losses.
Rejection.
Goodbyes.

There are many ways to cope.
Many places to seek comfort.
But there is only One who can bear our burdens and heal our hurts with sovereign sufficiency.
May we seek Him in the stillness.
While He may still be found.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Psalm 37:7

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
Exodus 14:14

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

But I have calmed and quieted my soul ... like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
Psalm 62:5-6

8.26.2019

He knows. And He provides.


One of my favorite things about the Lord is His constant faithfulness in providing timely and fitting words of encouragement for His children. Even more precious, He prepares them before we are aware we need them!
We cannot anticipate the trials of life, but the Lord is never surprised. And He knows exactly what will bring us the most comfort in our moments of crisis. A handwritten note in the mail with the "perfect verse." A call from a friend. A sermon. A worship song. A tight hug from our strongest sister. A quote. An unexpected gift. A prayer lifted on our behalf.
Our God is faithful.
Our God is timely.
Our God is aware.
He meets us where we are, and provides what we need, just when we need it most.
Because He loves us.

He anticipated my need this very morning, using the words of a godly man who has enjoyed the splendors of heaven for almost a century, yet still affects, encourages, and challenges believers today.
I pray his words will encourage others as greatly as they encouraged me.

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Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you. John 14:27

There are times when our peace is based upon ignorance, but when we awaken to the facts of life, inner peace is impossible unless it is received from Jesus. When Our Lord speaks peace, He makes peace, His words are ever “spirit and life.” Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “My peace I give unto you” — it is a peace which comes from looking into His face and realizing His undisturbedness.

Are you painfully disturbed just now, distracted by the waves and billows of God’s providential permission, and having, as it were, turned over the boulders of your belief, are you still finding no well of peace or joy or comfort; is all barren? Then look up and receive the undisturbedness of the Lord Jesus. Reflected peace is proof that you are right with God because you are at liberty to turn your mind to Him. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. If you allow anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you, you are either disturbed or you have a false security.

Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing and receiving from Him peace? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you obliterate Him and deserve all you get. We get disturbed because we have not been considering Him. When one confers with Jesus Christ the perplexity goes, because He has no perplexity, and our only concern is to abide in Him. Lay it all out before Him, and in the face of difficulty, bereavement and sorrow, hear Him say — “Let not your heart be troubled.”

- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Thank You, Father, for knowing what we need before we ask, and for being a God who does not hold us at arm's length, but invites us into a loving, safe, merciful, and compassionate relationship. You do not just offer the peace we crave. You ARE peace. And You are all we need.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30