7.21.2018

Dennis writes to his sons.

Greetings My Sons, 

Proverbs 21 is a wonderful chapter that is full of advice to fortify your daily life.
A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. (Proverbs 21:2)
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:3)
These two verses are encompassing thoughts that yield wisdom - when heeded.
As you grow and experience relationships, work opportunities, and decisions that will impact your life (including the small daily decisions), you have the ability to access the ear and arm of heaven through prayer.
Many discount prayer as something that is “the last effort” or “when I get to it," however, the LORD is close to those who are His and seek out His Word and have a relationship in prayer.
He will provide direction, counsel, and wisdom.
I love you, Dad

7.19.2018

Keeping our mouths CLOSED - Part II.

Many years ago I attached a bright yellow Post-it note to my computer which read:
She does not need to speak just because she has a mouth!

And this verse was the catalyst for the attachment of said note.
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36

I could probably end this post right here. For what more needs to be said? Scripture is crystal clear on this issue.
Control your tongue.
Do not gossip.
Do not meddle in the business of others.
Do not slander.
Do not make a judgment until you have all of the facts.
Think before speaking.
Do not use foul or inappropriate language.
There is a time to be silent.

And yet ...
Do we obey?
And do we uphold the same standard for ourselves that we demand of others?
How often are we upset when others gossip about us, make assumptions about us without knowing the whole truth and offend us with rude words - all while we are gossiping, making assumptions, and saying rude things about someone else?
How often do we speak/respond without first spending one moment in thought or prayer?
How often do we ask questions about other people that are absolutely none of our business?
How often do we speak because we want to give our opinion, make a statement, or get attention, instead of being still and silent?

James sure had it right when he said, Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:5-8

As if this detailed and horrifying description of the tongue was not enough to convict us never to speak again, it is not the only counsel the Lord gives on this matter.

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 29:20

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13

When words are many, sin is not absent, but whoever restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3


Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4

... a time to keep silent, and a time to speak; Ecclesiastes 3:7

Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:27-28


Oh, Lord! How much You have had to teach me about my mouth in 46 years of life, and how often You have had to discipline me for using it poorly. And, I fear, because James says that "no human being can tame the tongue," Your lessons have not come to an end and I will suffer more humiliation to bring about humility in the years to come. But Lord, the lessons can be fewer and far between, can they not? You promise to give wisdom to those who ask, without reproach, so I am asking with sincerity, please give me wisdom and discernment to know when to speak, how to speak, with whom to speak ... and when to be silent. I do not need to speak just because I have a mouth, or an opinion, or a thought. I only need to speak when You tell me do so. Please, Lord, make me a woman who thinks and prays much more than she speaks so that when words pour out of my mouth, they are not only worth hearing, but a blessing and encouragement to those who hear them. I give you my mouth, Lord. Please, take it and seal it until You want me to speak. Amen.

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

Then my tongue shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long. Psalm 35:28

7.17.2018

25 Years - TOGETHER!


❤ 25 years - TOGETHER. ❤

There have been amazing years and incredibly difficult years, but regardless of "better or worse," the Lord has faithfully pushed us toward each other, even when we wanted to move far away from one another. It is only because of Him that we can look at each other today - twenty-five years after committing to love, honor, and cherish one another until death parts us - and say, "I would do it all again!" And for this truth I am thankful.

Last night we challenged ourselves to come up with 25 things we have learned during our marriage. The first dozen lessons were easy, and then we had to give it serious thought. Who were we 25 years ago? Who are we now? What has changed? Why has it changed? It was interesting to look at our past, and it was wonderful to praise God that we are not the same people who said, "I do!" two decades ago. We cannot go back, but the Lord has faithfully restored the years the locusts devoured. And friends, there were too many wasted years.
But - HALLELUJIA! - we serve a God who wastes nothing and can turn the ugliest pile of ashes into a thing of beauty because He is in the business of forgiving, restoring, and giving second, third, and 374th chances.
How GOOD is our God!

We know we are just one couple. We are not like anyone else and no one is like us. But we hope that the lessons the Lord has taught us over the years will be an encouragement to others, whether they are decades into their own marriage, or were engaged last week.
Marriage is hard work. A daily choice. A life of selflessness and sacrifice.
And it is worth it!
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

Thank you, Dennis, for 25 years of faithfulness, kindness, forgiveness, grace, protection, and love.
I love you, ♥ Michelle

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

What we have learned after 25 years of living life together:

➺ seek to understand
➺ give the benefit of the doubt
➺ assume the best
➺ you cannot die on every hill so choose your battles well
➺ take out the trash without being asked - small acts of kindness go a long way
➺ be a student of one other
➺ understand how to - and then make intentional use of - good timing
➺ learn how to disagree and argue with respect and grace
➺ forgive quickly and often
➺ trust and seek each other's discretion and insight
➺ learn how to smooth the rough edges on each other, and be grateful for the change the sanding produces!
➺ accept that you will show and receive love and affection differently, and it's okay
➺ be content
➺ appreciate and respect the differences in your personalities, perspectives, interests, and convictions, for different does not equal wrong - and your differences will help strengthen one another
➺ pray for each other and with each other
➺ support each other's passions and convictions
➺ encourage one another in everything, especially the things of the Lord
➺ purposely seek to mature and grow in your weaknesses
➺ learn to recognize when your spouse needs to recharge/refresh and provide opportunities to make it happen
➺ learn how to give and recieve correction/rebuke lovingly and with grace
➺ talk to each other, a lot, about everything, even when uncomfortable
➺ speak truth to each other, and express your needs, for neither of you can read minds!
➺ serve together!
➺ be the first to apologize, humility is a game changer
➺ laugh together, often

25th Anniversary FUN with the whole family.






We chose to kick off our 25th anniversary with an early morning beach and donut outing with the people who have made the last 18 years of our marriage even MORE of an adventure!
(Sidecar donuts - sponsored by a gift card given to D for his 50th birthday. DE-licious!)







7.16.2018

This and that.

"Mom. Can we PLEASE start school again?!?"
"Why, YES! Yes, we can!"
People have long thought me crazy/uptight/rigid/strict for not taking the entire summer off from school, but the truth is - we can't.
From the time Micah and Luke were small, we realized that our children cannot handle week upon week without structure and routine.
A week of VBS here, a few beach days there, and a handful of swim dates and park days is fine, but they need and crave - order.
This summer has not been as well-planned as summers past, but they got back on my game and we are ready to roll!
Daily Bible/biography reading, out-loud reading, math games, audio listening, and spelling are now etched into three days of our weekly schedule - and we are all better because of it!
And I will admit, there is something sweet about starting because they asked, not because it was mandated.

~~~ Tomorrow is our 25th Wedding Anniversary!
25 y e a r s.
It sounds like such a long time, yet feels like we barely said, "I do!"
Dennis took the day off work so we can go play. Woohoo! We are kicking it off with early morning donuts and a beach stroll with all the kids. And then, a nice dinner out - alone - and two hours on a Duffy Boat enjoying the beauty of nature, the quiet of the harbor, and conversation and laughter.
It will be a terrific day!

The day we committed to saving every spare dollar to pay off bills so we can qualify for foster care, we looked at each other and said, "Buckle Up! It's going to be a bumpy ride!"
We knew there would be attacks from within and without. And we were not wrong. Within two weeks we had a car battery die, needing to be replaced, a shower back up, requiring a plumber, and a screen door rip.
I looked at our savings jar in discouragement and thought, "Oh, Lord. Will it EVER be filled?"
Dennis and I were both disheartened, but finally looked at each other and said, "We knew it was coming! Let's just shake it OFF!" So, we did. No more mourning. Just faith.
And then, two days later, we received this card in the mail, in which was enclosed a check for "the orphan fund." Our first George Mueller moment.
And it was WONDERFUL.
...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8

In three weeks, Dennis and Micah fly to Jordan - to give a voice to students with learning and special needs - together!
We are thrilled for this incredible opportunity Dennis has, along with renowned colleagues, to bring awareness to the leaders and educators of Jordan about how to serve and support students with learning and special needs in the classroom.
A leader from Jordan attended one of Dennis' workshops in Lebanon and graciously chose to invite him to be a part of their own personal push for change in the education system in Jordan.
When invited, he asked if he could bring Micah with him to give a voice to the students - from a student - and they enthusiastically said, "Yes!"
They have been talking and planning and preparing for weeks and I cannot WAIT to see how the Lord uses them!
Not only will Dennis and Micah be able to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, they will be able to encourage and support those who serve students and their parents every single day. Faithfully. And with joy.
Thank You, Lord, for an opportunity such as this!

~~~ It is MONDAY! An entire week lies ahead filled with plans we must hold loosely and unknowns we must embrace with acceptance and grace.
May we wake up each morning with praise on our lips! "This IS the day the Lord has made! We WILL rejoice and be GLAD in it!"

7.14.2018

A Confession. And a (hopefully long) Closure.

When I was a freshman in college, I was looking out the window of a friend's dorm room and made a comment about someone walking below. My friend looked up, locked eyes with me, and said, "You have a critical spirit." And then, she put her head back in her book and kept right on reading. I was stunned. What had I said? Nothing extreme or inappropriate, nothing different than what a hundred other women/girls had said before. Why the rebuke then? 
It took me quite some time to figure it out. Time in the Word. Time in prayer. Time in silence. And time bathing in the humiliation that brings about humility.
One of my (many) life verses during my college years was this beauty:
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3
I had it written on my mirror in dry erase marker. I had it written on a note card ring that I carried with me at all times. I highlighted it in my Bible. I repeated it to myself over and over and over. And yet, even then, I drove a steamroller through the door and shot the guard more times than I care to admit.

I know I am not alone. I have listened to countless messages and sermons, read dozens of books, heard several testimonies, and watched women sob on my couch ... each one confessing embarrassing moments of gossip, meddling in the business of others, slandering someone, making wrong judgments in ignorance, or carelessly saying something that cannot be unsaid.
And relationships were either damaged or destroyed.

What do they all have in common? Lack of self-control and pride. 
Not thinking before speaking.
Not praying before thinking or speaking.
Not asking the right questions or enough questions to make sure all of the facts have been presented.
Not listening with the intent of understanding.
Not prayerfully pondering before answering.
Not asking if it is public or private knowledge or if it can be shared.
Not confessing, repenting and seeking forgiveness immediately after doing one or all of the above.
And the list goes on.

Almost 30 years have passed since I stood looking out of that dorm room window, but the sting of those words feels as fresh as if it took place just moments ago. And I am thankful because I need to feel the sting often to remind me that I will never have full control over my tongue this side of heaven.
I will always need to pray for wisdom and discretion to know when to speak and when to be silent.
I will always need to remember that "when words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." (Proverbs 10:19)
I will always have to remember that what is said and what is heard do not necessarily match. 
And I will always have to remember that though it may not be my intent, I can hurt, offend, and wound someone deeply with the words that spill out of my mouth.

Praise the Lord - PRAISE THE LORD! - for His forgiveness and grace when I fail to remember and walk in disobedience.
And Praise Him - PRAISE HIM! - that others are willing to offer that same forgiveness and grace when I fail them.

After a long two days bowed low before the Lord because of this very sin, He reminded me of this wonderful writing by a woman I admire and respect. Because I know how feisty she was and have read her personal confessions about this same struggle, I was encouraged with the thought that maybe, just maybe, I will one day discover that my teeth are rarely needed to bite my tongue. Not because I will have mastered the art of controlling it, but because I will have handed over the reigns to the One who is Master of all.

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

When to Keep Your Mouth CLOSED.
- Elisabeth Elliot
In the Heat of Anger
-Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9
-Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge. Proverbs 14:7

When You Don't Have All the Facts
-He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13
-The first to present his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17

If Your Words Will Offend a Weaker Brother
It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Romans 14:21

When You are Tempted to Joke About Sin
Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor. Proverbs 14:9

When You Would be Ashamed of Your Words Later
For my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; nothing crooked or perverse is in them. Proverbs 8:7, 8

When You are Tempted to Make Light of Holy Things
Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.
For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
Ecclesiastes 5:2, 3

When You are Feeling Critical
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 
Ephesians 4:29

If Your Words Would Convey a Wrong Impression
He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Proverbs 17:27

When You are Tempted to Tell an Outright Lie
Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Proverbs 4:24

If Your Words Will Damage Someone's Reputation or Spread Gossip
An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire.
A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends. Proverbs 16:7, 8 

If You Cannot Speak Without Yelling
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28

When You are Tempted to Flatter a Wicked Person
It is not good to show partiality in judgment.
He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Him the people will curse; nations will abhor him.
But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them. Proverbs 24:23-25


When You are Supposed to be Working Instead
In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

When It is Time to Listen 
-Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
James 1:19
-If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13
-A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble. Proverbs 21:23

Imagine if we all followed such wisdom.
The world would be much quieter, and we could fill the silence with encouragement and praise!

7.13.2018

A 200-year-old mentor and FRIEND.

If someone questioned whether I am getting my nourishment from books instead of food these days, I wouldn't disagree!
There are just too many books and not enough free hours in which to consume them.
And when it comes to writings that contain the details of men and women who loved God most so they could love others best, men and women who obeyed God faithfully so they could serve others consistently, men and women who were passionate about their faith so they could exhibit endless compassion to others ... I want to consume every one of those details!
I find myself talking about them as though they are intimate friends. Referencing them as if everyone has consumed their biographies and is familiar with their life work. Thinking about them when I have a decision to make or feel discouraged by the critiques of men instead of keeping my eyes, thoughts, and actions on the calling placed on me by the Lord.
I have always enjoyed biographies, but now I appreciate them. Relish them. Revel in them. Savor them. Adore them. Pick a synonym and it will work!
I don't know why the Lord has plunged me into this season of devouring biographies of godly men and women at such a frenzied pace, but I am thankful! It's like being surrounded with my own cheerleading squad. Constant encouragement, enthusiasm, energy - all directed at making a difference for eternity.
It is fanTAStic!

I have long appreciated William Wilberforce for his unwavering passion to end the slave trade and slavery in Britain, but now, after learning about the inner-workings of his heart and crying while reading the detailed description of his response when the slave trade and slavery were officially ended by the declaration of Parliament, I admire him. And I am awed by him. He responded to God pricking his conscience and his heart to end slavery when he was a young man, and he spent every day of the next twenty years fighting to win that battle. And he was rewarded for his faithfulness. Not only did he win the battle to abolish the slave trade, he was told he won the war - the abolition of slavery - just three days before the Lord called him home ... to GLORY.

William Wilberforce spent his entire adult life fighting to set men, women, and children FREE, and I am confident that when he bowed before his Lord in the throne room of heaven, he was not only delighted to hear that the fighting was finally over, but to also hear the much-desired words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’ (Matthew 25:21)

As always, I will share quotes about the subject of the biography with the goal of enticing and encouraging those who don't know him/her to make a personal introduction. Enjoy!

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

We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible... So we will do them anyway.

If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.

It makes no sense to take the name of Christian and not cling to Christ. Jesus is not some magic charm to wear like a piece of jewelry we think will give us good luck. He is the Lord. His name is to be written on our hearts in such a powerful way that it creates within us a profound experience of His peace and a heart that is filled with His praise.

In the calmness of the morning before the mind is heated and weary by the turmoil of the day, you have a season of unusual importance for communing with God and with yourself.

If you love someone who is ruining his or her life because of faulty thinking, and you don't do anything about it because you are afraid of what others might think, it would seem that rather than being loving, you are in fact being heartless.

Surely the principles of Christianity lead to action as well as meditation.

Of all things, guard against neglecting God in the secret place of prayer.

Selfishness is one of the principal fruits of the corruption of human nature; and it is obvious that selfishness disposes us to over-rate our good qualities, and to overlook or extenuate our defects.


You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know. 

7.11.2018

Who I am in Christ far surpasses who others think I am.

Within the last twenty-four hours, I have been challenged twice to remember and ponder the beautiful truths of WHO I AM IN CHRIST. 

The first challenege happened during a serious conversation with a godly woman when the Lord reminded me of the decades I spent viewing and valuing myself through the eyes of others rather than through HIS eyes. I spent countless years evaluating myself based on the opinions of what other people thought of me, and always, I was found wanting. Rejected. And never "enough." How thankful I was when the Lord held up a truth-shaped mirror to my face to reveal that while the world may find me wanting, He does not! For I am covered in the precious blood of His Son, adopted into His royal line, secure and complete in Him, and never to be taken out of His hands.

The second challenge came after receiving texts from two different friends containing these words:
-I prayed for YOU this morning, Michelle. You are loved, covered & seen. πŸŒΌπŸ’›
-True things should be said. ❤️ I think we forget sometimes how the Lord has gifted us.

I had no idea how much I needed to look deeply into that truth-shaped mirror again, but my Father did! He knew last night when I was faced with some difficult realities and old wounds that have not completely healed while pouring my heart out to a friend, and He knew today when He saw my thoughts going back to places they ought not linger. And in so doing, He saved me from - myself.

I have often joked that I would like to have these truths - WHO I AM IN CHRIST - tattooed inside my eyelids. But now, I joke no more. Truth, the truth of Scripture, the truth of how God sees me, is the only thing that keeps me grounded when emotion battles for control, and the only thing that forces my thoughts to focus on Him instead of myself and what I want or think I deserve. And the best part is - I don't need a painful tattoo! All I have to do is open the most beautiful piece of literature in the world and read it for myself. Day after day, year after year, until I not only memorize it - but BELIEVE it.

I AM GOD’S…
· possession   Genesis 17:8/ 1 Cor 6:20
· child   John 1:12
· workmanship   Ephesians 2:10
· friend   James 2:23
· co-laborer   1 Timothy 5:18
· witness   Acts 1:8
· soldier   II Timothy 2:3
· chosen   Ephesians 1:4
· beloved   Romans 1:7/ II Thessalonians 2:13
· precious jewel   Malachi 3:17

I HAVE BEEN…
· redeemed by the blood   Rev 5:9
· set free from sin /condemnation   Romans 8:1-2
· chosen before the foundation of world   Ephesians 1:4
· washed in the blood of the Lamb   Rev 1:5
· given a sound mind   2 Timothy 1:7
· given the Holy Spirit   2 Cor 1:22
· adopted into God’s family   Romans 8:15
· given great and precious promises   2 Peter 1:4
· given access to God   Ephesians 3:12

I AM…
· complete in Him   Colossians 2:10
· free forever from sin’s power   Romans 6:14
· loved eternally   1 Peter 1:5
· eternally kept in the palm of His hand   John 10:29
· kept from falling   Jude 1:24
· one with the Lord   1 Cor 6:17
· seated in heavenly places   Ephesians 1:3
· light in the darkness   Matthew 5:14
· His sheep   Psalm 23 / Psalms 100:3/ John 10:14
· a citizen of heaven   1 Peter 2:11
· hidden with Christ in God   Psalms 32:7
· protected from the evil one   1 John 5:18
· secure in Christ   John 10:28-29
· covered by the blood of Jesus   Rev 12:11, 1 Pet 1:19
· sheltered under His wing   Psalms 91:4

I HAVE…
· access to the Father   Romans 5:2
· a home in heaven waiting for me   John 14:1-2
· a living hope   1 Peter 1:3
· an anchor to my soul   Hebrews 6:19
· a hope that is sure and steadfast   Hebrews 6:19
· the mind of Christ   1 Cor 2:16
· peace with God   Romans 5:1

I CAN…
· do all things through Christ   Phil 4:13
· find mercy and grace to help   Hebrews 4:16
· come boldly to the throne of grace   Heb 4:16
· pray always and everywhere   Luke 21:36
· defeat (overcome) the enemy   Rev 12:11

I CANNOT…
· be separated from God’s love   Romans 8:35-39
· be moved   Psalms 16:8
· be taken out of my Father’s hand   John 10:29
· be condemned   1 Cor 11:32

7.10.2018

Dennis writes to his sons.

Greetings My Sons,
There are moments when the LORD calls you to action. However, our idea of action is often found in a Marvel movie or some harrowing deed that few can accomplish. The picture of an active believer, however, can be one of a Christian on his knees asking for clarity, guidance, and light.
Will you be found equipped with a will ready to go and do?
The summer months invite activity (some frivolous and some impactful) but I would challenge you to pray and ask the Lord to lead you by His Spirit so you can do those things He is calling you to do -with His strength.
You are in the process of becoming sanctified.
The more we act like Jesus the less we act like our natural self. This is good for everyone.
I love you,
Dad

Please consider the reading from Oswald Chambers:

Will You Examine Yourself?
By Oswald Chambers

Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the Lord…" Joshua 24:19

Do you have even the slightest reliance on anything or anyone other than God? Is there a remnant of reliance left on any natural quality within you, or on any particular set of circumstances? Are you relying on yourself in any manner whatsoever regarding this new proposal or plan which God has placed before you? Will you examine yourself by asking these probing questions? It really is true to say, “I cannot live a holy life,” but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy. “You cannot serve the Lord…”— but you can place yourself in the proper position where God’s almighty power will flow through you. Is your relationship with God sufficient for you to expect Him to exhibit His wonderful life in you?

“The people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord!’ ” (Joshua 24:21). This is not an impulsive action, but a deliberate commitment. We tend to say, “But God could never have called me to this. I’m too unworthy. It can’t mean me.” It does mean you, and the more weak and feeble you are, the better. The person who is still relying on and trusting in anything within himself is the last person to even come close to saying, “I will serve the Lord.”

We say, “Oh, if only I really could believe!” The question is, “Will I believe?” No wonder Jesus Christ placed such emphasis on the sin of unbelief. “He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). If we really believed that God meant what He said, just imagine what we would be like! Do I really dare to let God be to me all that He says He will be?

7.09.2018

Another wedding CELEBRATION!


Justin & Chloe 

❤ They are now ONE. ❤

And they are one of the most relaxed and jolly couples I have ever witnessed on a wedding day!
We have known Justin for five years, serving with him in the youth group, and drawing him into our family because he allowed us to invest in him and walk through life at his side.
We loved him when he was a Party of One - and he became more lovable when the Lord placed Chloe at his side, for she drew him out and enhanced his already stellar character.
Together, they make a fantastic Party of TWO!

Dennis and I had the privilege of traveling to the event with our friends Jeff and Danielle.
We arrived 45 minutes early, so Danielle and I decided to sit on the wrap around porch of the beautiful home built in 1892 which served as a backdrop for the ceremony while the guys walked around the property. As we were talking and enjoying the scenery, we saw three men casually strolling through the gardens next to the house and then realized it was our men - and the groom!
We popped up from our wicker bench squealing, "Justin!" and were greeted with his contagious smile and warm hugs. The five of us talked, laughed, took photos, and then the groom sauntered over to greet other guests as casually as though he were at a ball game.
Just as those who know him best would expect!

The entire day reflected Justin and Chloe perfectly.
relaxed
FUN
outdoor setting surrounded by towering trees
bridesmaids in pretty dresses
groomsmen in jeans and untucked dress shirts
lighthearted, playful music
vows were written and spoken by the bride and groom
the bride literally jumped up and down when she said, "Oh, YEAH, I do!"
appetizers and lawn games after the ceremony
the reception in a huge, red barn
delicious and filling food
thoughtful toasts
dancing
And it was perfectly clear that the Bride & Groom are beloved and adored.

Thank you for including us in your day, Mr. and Mrs. Halverson!
It will be an honor and a joy to witness how the Lord uses you as a couple as you continue to seek Him, serve Him, and love Him year after year. You love each other well because you love Him BEST.




The reception with all of these friends was the icing on the proverbial cake!
(Pretend you can see Dave and Karla Doyle in the photo!)
The best word to sum up our time together? LAUGHTER! 



7.02.2018

An excellent (and biblical) quote.


Speculation is the enemy of calm.


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.
Phillippians 4:6-7

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.
Psalm 56:3

I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4


Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 12:25

When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul.
Psalm 94:19

6.30.2018

One of my FAVORITES!

Another book - devoured!
If you have not been introduced to Brother Andrew, make it happen - SOON! You will never forget the experience, and you will never be the same.
He celebrated his 90th birthday this year.
63 years of serving the Lord without fear, without shame, and with a boldness and passion that is extraordinary, and should not be the exception, but the rule.
How I wish I could meet him, for he is one of my favorite giants of the faith.
Dennis and I listened to God's Smuggler for the first time on a 12-hour drive and did something radical in response. A huge leap of faith to be sure, and one we have never regretted. And now, after reading the sequel, I am feeling an even more intense pull to make a significant change in our family, our lifestyle, and our influence in our community. Dennis and I have already been in discussion about this, so this just added fuel to the fire! And we are quite confident that the timing is not a coincidence.

As always, I am including some of my favorite quotes here to encourage and inspire you, as well as tempt you to go meet Andrew yourself! He is a brother every believer should have in their acquaintance. But I caution you: Be prepared to be convicted! He does not pull ANY spiritual punches. But he always strikes with love. And truth.
I pray I will become as brave and bold as this brother!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our faith in Christ must become a way of life, wherever we are. When that happens, it won't be long before you begin to see the entire world, and your part in it, with different eyes. You will discover that God is opening doors for you to serve Him in ways you never thought possible.

... the next time you see a disturbing news story, ask, "Is there a church there?" and then get down on your knees and pray for it.

After all, the Bible, the Word of God, changes people. And changed people change the situations around them.

Be on time. When God calls, or when His people are in need, be there.

The door may seem closed, but it's only closed the way a supermarket door is closed. It stays shut when you remain at a distance, but as you deliberately move toward it, a magic eye above it sees you coming, and the door opens. God is waiting for us to walk forward in obedience so he can open the door for us to serve Him.

If we are passive rather than active, always waiting for the door to open rather than stepping out in faith, then we are not planning to reach the world for Christ.

I believe it is better to obey when you think God is speaking than to disobey when you know He is speaking.

What's the difference between a hero and a coward? Both are ordinary people, both are scared, and both are running. But the hero is running in the right direction.

The real calling of God is not to a certain place or career, but to everyday obedience.

Nationalism can be a wonderful thing, but if our desire for political independence is greater than our desire to evangelize the world, we can never win against the forces of evil.

"Andrew, when they kill me, it will be for speaking, not for being silent." (quote from a pastor in an underground church where Christianity was illegal)

As long as we have an enemy image of any group of people, we cannot love them. God will not call us to any nation or people that we do not shed tears for when we pray for them.

The believers in that village didn't want anything material ... all they wanted was spiritual communion and companionship. They needed to know they weren't alone in their struggle. To me, that is what Open Doors is all about - going into the world and simply being there as the hands and feet of the Lord. Going to our hurting brothers and sisters and saying, "We are the Lord's presence with you. We share in your pain and we care that you are suffering."
➙ I LOVE this quote because it applies to anyone, anywhere, in any struggle. A widow, a single parent, an infertile woman, birth parents who have had their children take away, a neglected spouse, a sick child, a child of divorce, a prisoner, or a dying person.
They don't need us to "fix it." They need US.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, 
yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? I John 3:17

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

6.29.2018

Micah and Luke - MISSIONS.

One blessing of modern technology is being able to see your children
when they are serving in another country. πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ’™
The team hit the ground running after landing on Mexican soil.


The new soccer ministry has been a success! Our team invites other teams and/or groups of kids to compete on the field, and then presents the Gospel after the final whistle blows. (Our team won a game which earned them respect in the community. YES!)


The guys on the team were asked to pour a concrete floor - and clearly had fun doing so!
(Manual labor IS satisfying and a worthy way to spend time!)


Open-air preaching and a powerful skit about the Gospel message take place in the middle of the town square. And people watch and listen - with interest! 

How thankful we are that our sons have an opportunity to serve people and minister to the people of God in another country. 
Performing skits, playing with children, serving food at a shelter, mixing cement, leading Bible studies, offering a helping hand, praying with someone, giving a hug ... there are so many ways we can serve those around us. And so many ways we SHOULD.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”
Proverbs 3:27 

6.26.2018

Are you RADICAL? Am I? I certainly hope so!

Eight years after publication I am finally reading this book. It has been sitting in my queue for a few years, waiting for the Lord to say, "Now! It's time to read it now!" So - I did. In two days. And I loved every page.
What I loved best, however, was that the Lord had me read it after He called us to foster care and/or adoption. Instead of being the catalyst, the truths in this book confirmed the calling. This matters to me because it is easy to read a convicting book (or listen to a sermon) like this and feel compelled to do something radical based on emotion (dare I say guilt?) rather than patiently and prayerfully seeking and listening to the Lord.
Because the Lord has made His calling to orphan care clear for our family, the statements and Scriptures in this book were exciting and encouraging and had me underlining dozens of sentences and writing, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and "Preach it!" all over the margins.
What a refreshing read! And what a revolutionary CHALLENGE!

If you have already read this book, please - tell me your story!
Did you read the Bible in a year? Did you pray for the world? What did you sacrifice? Where did you go? What community did you build?
If you have not read it, I implore you - buy a copy and devour it.
You may be tempted to stop reading, for what the author calls the church to do is indeed - radical.
You will feel uncomfortable. You will see yourself in his scenarios. You will be embarrassed.
But - if you keep going, if you read to the last page, everything he says will be in your brain - in your heart - and the Lord will use it to call you to ACTION. After that, the choice is up to you.
Will you sacrifice so others can gain?
Will you get uncomfortable?
Will you obey?

Thinking out loud here, wondering if anyone would commit to reading this book, discussing it, and then implementing it into our daily lives, our families, our spheres of influence?
It is a book that sparks not only thought but a desire to DISCUSS.

As always, I would have to retype the book in order to share all of my underlines and highlights, but I am going to do my best to capture the statements that gripped me most, leaving my head spinning, thinking, and planning. ENJOY! (in a prepare-to-be-utterly-convicted kind of way)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You and I can continue to choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or, we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believe Him and really obeyed Him.

...a relationship with Jesus requires total, superior, and exclusive devotion.

The Gospel does not prompt you to mere reflection; the gospel requires a response.

Everything in all creation responds in obedience to the Creator...until we get to you and me. We have the audacity to look God in the face and say, "No."

While the goal of the American Dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.

Jesus commands us to go. He has created each of us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and I propose that anything less than radical devotion to this purpose is unbiblical Christianity.

Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell.

...if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is really in us at all.
We certainly wouldn't ignore our kids while we sang songs and entertained ourselves, but we are content with ignoring other parent's kids.

...our perspective on our possessions radically changes when we open our eyes to the needs of the world around us.
Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?

Clearly, God does not command or expect us to meet every need. But the logic that says, "I can't do everything, so I won't do anything," is straight from hell.

...orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.

The question, therefore, is not "Can we find God's will?" The question is, "Will we obey God's will?"

What would happen if Jesus dominated our affections more than the superficial trivialities that garner our attention?

In our quest for the extraordinary, we often overlook the importance of the ordinary (Scripture reading and prayer), and I'm proposing that a radical lifestyle actually begins with an extraordinary commitment to ordinary practices that have marked Christians who have affected the world throughout history.

Radical obedience to Christ is not easy; it is dangerous. It is not smooth sailing aboard a luxury liner; it is sacrificial duty aboard a troop carrier. It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.

6.24.2018

Man is disappointing - but God is faithful.

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us. 
- Spurgeon

If any man thinks ill of you do not be angry with him,
for you are far worse than he thinks you to be. 
- Spurgeon

I read these quotes almost every day.
In a culture where respect and kindness are rare, it is important to remember that
wonderfully convicting, humbling, and true saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

It is easy to get frustrated, irritated, and angry
when the words and actions of others knock against our core values and convictions.
It is easy to judge others, assuming we know the whole story when in truth, we know only parts.
It is easy to take things personally instead of seeking to understand.
It is easy to take offense rather than give someone the benefit of the doubt.

But the truth is, we cannot control anyone else.
We cannot control their actions, words, thoughts, motives, or convictions.
But this should not be surprising because an even bigger truth is that we cannot control ourselves.
For I do not understand my own actions.
For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.
For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Romans 7:15-20

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us. 
- Spurgeon

If any man thinks ill of you do not be angry with him,
for you are far worse than he thinks you to be. 
- Spurgeon

These quotes are excellent and true, but they are meaningless if they cannot be supported by Scripture.
And Scripture has much to say about the wickedness of the heart of man.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

And He said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft,
murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:20-23

None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
Romans 3:10

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight,
so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Psalm 51:3-5

Praise God He did not leave us without a remedy for our sin!
He sent His Son to bear the penalty for our sin by dying on a cross in order to bridge the chasm between God and man. And then, He rose from the dead, defeating death in order that we may have LIFE!
Not just any life, but forgiven, restored, ABUNDANT life!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
I John 1:9

The Lord is merciful and gracious, 
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 
He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. 
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; 
as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. 
Psalm 103:8-12

It is easy to be disappointed by man, for man is thoroughly disappointing.
BUT GOD ...

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

6.23.2018

Micah and Luke - MISSION TRIP!


We just sent these two young men away with prayer, hugs, and a “We love you” to serve in Tepic, Mexico on a mission trip with their peers and adults in our church.
They spent the last nine months preparing, training, witnessing to people in our own city, and reading the Word and praying so their hearts and minds would be ready to minister to the people of Tepic.
We have them serve at home so they can serve abroad ... for the entire world needs to hear and understand the truth of the Gospel ... both next door and 5,000 miles away.
Pray for them if you will!
Our prayer as parents is that the Lord will challenge them, stretch them, mature them,
and show them how big He is and how small they are as they sacrifice comfort, sleep,
and their own desires to love others in a tangible way.
The need for kindness, grace, compassion, and love is endless … 
and we pray our boys will be able to offer each one of these to the people they meet
and have opportunities to minister to in the days ahead.
Our house will not be the same without them, and my mother’s heart already misses them,
but the joy of knowing where they are and what they are doing is worth it. ❤

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Romans 10:13-15

6.20.2018

Collecting Coins and Waiting on the Lord!

For the past two years, the Lord has been doing an intense work in our family by calling us to understand, support, and take action in Orphan/Foster Care. We have been always been enthusiastic supporters of friends and family who adopted and/or fostered children and believe wholeheartedly that it is a necessary, worthy, and Gospel driven ministry. But in 2016 the Lord made it clear to us that "Cheering is not enough. It is time for the Eastmans to DO something!" So, with blind faith, we took our first steps of obedience.
Step #1
Step #2
Step #3
We were stalled for a time because families with six children cannot take in more children through foster care, so we waited until Micah turned eighteen to leap that temporary hurdle.
Now, we get to take Step #4!
A tangible step that is necessary and important. Finances.

In California, while the level of income is not (necessarily) an issue, the county/agencies verify that monies received by foster care families will be used for the foster children, not to pay personal bills and expenses. This is a wonderful and important requirement and one that forced us to reassess our finances so we can Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house (Proverbs 24:27) 
in order to take Step #5 - Apply!

Our faith was small when we first faced this giant, for we know it will take longer than we like, but small faith is enough because we know we deal with a God who is not paused or thwarted by earthly hurdles. When He calls us to action, He does not ask for our opinions or our excuses. (See the singed eyebrows of Moses for details.) He wants to see ACTION. Obedience. Full surrender. And because He is a loving and gracious Father, He uses the body of Christ to affirm and encourage us in the calling.

Three weeks ago I sat in our church sanctuary with a sweet sister in Christ, to say goodbye. She moved across the country to begin a new life with her family in the beauty of the south. We have studied God’s Word together, prayed for each other, and encouraged one another for the past few years, and have mutually stirred each other up in the faith. After we prayed, she handed me an envelope and said, "This is a love gift for you. It is a small token of my gratefulness for what you have invested in me." We smiled, dabbed our tears, and hugged goodbye.
Later, I opened the card, and five paper bills fell into my lap. I couldn't believe it. Unexpected, not-part-of-our-paycheck money.
I sat there, staring at it, and felt like the Lord stepped up behind me to speak loudly and clearly in my ear, "Do you see that, Michelle? I can make things appear out of nowhere! I am not bound by salaries and expenses and seemingly large obstacles. I am God. You - are not. So stop trying to figure out the "how," and walk in obedience, one step at a time, and watch Me work."

I continued to sit, for a long time. Praying, repenting, asking for renewed faith and proper perspective.
And then, I placed the card on our kitchen windowsill to remember that day, pulled a large glass jar from our cupboard, laid the bills inside, and ...
The Eastman Adoption/Foster Care Savings Jar became a part of our home.
(Dennis calls it an Ebenezer Stone.♥)


Basically, all monies earned/received outside of D's paycheck (child care, dog sitting, speaking engagements, loose change, etc. etc.) go into the jar. Each time it fills up we will cash it in and make a double/triple payment on a bill (car, student loan, child's braces, etc.) until we are debt free and can follow the Lord wherever He takes us in the Foster Care/Adoption world. For it is a big world, with a myriad of ways to serve.
Right now our passion is to do Emergency Foster Care for babies, but as we see in Scripture, a desire does not always equal a calling. (I.e., the Lord's refusal to let King David build His temple.) The Lord might want us financially free to help fund other families who are adopting, or start a ministry for birth parents who are broken and hurting because though their rights were terminated, they love and want their children. He may have us open our home to support single mothers until they are able to support themselves. He may fill our home with babies until they are reunified with their parents, or adopted. He may even move us to another country to join in the work others are already doing to rescue and serve children in need.
The options are endless!
And even better - our God is without limits!

When we explained the purpose of the jar to our children, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie ran to their piggy banks and nearly emptied them, dollar bills and all, and the teens raided their own coin collections and wallets. We LOVE this! Our entire family is in agreement about fostering/adopting, which is incredibly important.
But this is not surprising, because when the Lord calls the PARENTS to foster and/or adopt, He also calls the CHILDREN. ❤

We have no idea how long it will take or what it will look like, but the Lord DOES.
So for now - we will wait. We will pray. We will collect coins.
And we will watch the Lord do what He does best - His Will.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:13, 14