I remember two things:
that I am a great sinner,
and that Christ is a great Savior.
~ John Newton, 1799


God knows - and He cares.

... for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:8

How true
and wonderful
and comforting
this verse is to the believer!

God knows what we need.

Sometimes He uses others to meet our needs.
A hug from a loved one.
A note of encouragement from a dear friend.
An unexpected monetary gift.
An invitation to dinner.
A visitor in the hospital waiting room.
The perfect sermon that convicts and challenges us.
A conversation that changes our respective and restores us to right thinking.

Sometimes He removes everyone so we will rely solely on Him to supply what we need - exactly when we need it.
Relief and healing from an illness.
A passage of Scripture that turns our mourning into dancing.
Unexpected free hours to rest and 'be still' before Him.
A profound time of prayer.
A peace that passes all understanding.

And - He cares.
For us.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8


This and that.

This week has been a good one!
Dennis is home, all of the Eastmans are healthy, schooling went smoothly, attitudes were correct, and everyone seems generally happy and content.
Thank You, Lord! It is only because of You that any of this is possible!

My stationery drawer is full again!
My stock was running dangerously low, but thanks to birthday presents, a gift card, and the $1 section at a certain store, I now have enough paper to send notes for the next three months. Yay!
(If only stamps could be found in the dollar bin as well! hehehe)
I have been on the receiving end of some hand-written cards in the last two weeks and, as usual, they made my day!
The power of the written word!

~~~ Do you ever feel like every time you read Scripture the words/passages either thwack you between the eyes or provide exactly what you need to hear, just when you need to hear it?
That is what I have been experiencing these past few weeks, and I have to say - it is WONderful!
There are times my Bible reading feels mechanical - reading for the sake of obedience rather than going before the Word of God EXPECTING to be encouraged, challenged, and changed.
God promises His words "never return void" and that Scripture is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
If Scripture is judging the thoughts and intentions of my heart while I read, then it doesn't matter one bit how I "feel" during the process! Refreshed, convicted, encouraged or robotic ... God is at work and I am being changed. Praise Him, Praise Him for such a truth!

The littles were inspired by D's travels to set up their own airplane in the backyard and pretend to fly
around the world.
It had been unusually quiet in the house, and just when I wondered what they were doing I happened to look out the kitchen window and witnessed this scene. I was not sure what they were doing until I spied the luggage and heard Josiah say, "We will be landing in 20 minutes, ladies and gentlemen." HA!
I love when kids use their imaginations! Who needs TV, iPads, and battery-operated toys when you have a mind that can create a dozen different adventures every day?

I have a new obsession. It's wrong, I know. And yet ...
You see, we have six children. Two of whom are the size of grown men, one who is about to shoot into teen-size, and three little ones who are no longer toddlers weighing in at 30 pounds apiece.
These six children are sitting in the back of a minivan - not next to each other, but ON each other.
Though the van model we have boasts "eight seats," this is not actually true. There are six true seats, and two half seats. These half seats cannot accommodate a child's car seat or the back end of an adult body, which is why we are now bursting at the seams in our faithful van.
So this beauty is what I have my eye on!
Isn't it lovely?
The best part? It has TWELVE SEATS! Twelve! And even if each row contains a half seat it doesn't matter because they can remain empty!
Imagine - an entire two feet of space in between each set of children.
I swoon at the thought!
The rational, mature side of me says, "Who cares if they are squished in like sardines? It forces them to learn how to share, sacrifice and adapt to frustrating circumstances."
The fleshly, annoyed side of me screams, "If I have to listen to ONE MORE argument about who-is sitting-where-and-touching-whom-and-not-being-able-to-fit-in-their-space I am going to blow a proverbial gasket!!!"
Dreams are nice things to have I suppose. <smile>

Dennis and his colleagues were able to visit an amazing place during their stay in Cambodia: Angkor Wat. It is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world.
Dennis sent me a note after his visit which read, "The only thing that would make this place better is if you were with me!"
His passion for history and historical artifacts is quite strong. When he has the opportunity to explore a new place - especially one that is hundreds of years old - he grabs hold of it and absorbs every drop of the experience.
The photos do not do it justice, I am sure. Every time I look at them I am awed by the splendor, and find my eyes drawn to the gorgeous, clear, brightly colored sky. The world contains so much beauty! All because of the creative work of a loving God who designed the universe with a word. How great is our God!

~~~ We have an entire weekend ahead of us, and not one commitment! (I know you cannot see me, but my face is BEAMING!)
We have learned the hard way that we need an entire week to recover after Dennis has been out of the country. Just because he comes home, he is not accessible. He is exhausted (they put in 12 hour days while there), off schedule, and goes right back to work the day after he returns. He needs time and space to acclimate to his normal routine, and we need to give him both.
Once he is rested he is back in action - entertaining, engaging, and bringing life to our home.
This has been the easiest transition yet, so we are eagerly looking forward to a weekend of fun, laughter, and good conversations as we debrief about all that took place since we parted.
Three days.
No commitments.
Just us.
Thank You, Lord, for such a gift!


Quote. God's presence.

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13 

"The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good!" Proverbs 15:3

To walk with God is to live ever as in His presence! To realize His presence, to abide continually under His eye, to recognize our Father as close by our side - is the secret of much peace. We must ever regard Him, not as if He were far away in some inaccessible abode - but nearer to us than our nearest friend. In our chamber, by the wayside, at our work, in our recreation, when mingling with others, or all alone - we must see One whom the world sees not, we must hear a voice that the world hears not.

Whether beneath the eye of man or not, let all things be done under the eye of Him to whom . . . .
  all hearts are open,
  all desires known, and
  from whom no secrets are hidden!

A few plain principles have been given to assist us in carrying this out in daily practice:
Say nothing you would not like God to hear. 
Do nothing you would not like God to see.

Write nothing you would not like God to read.

Go to no place where you would not like God to find you.

Read no book of which you would not like God to say, "Show it to Me."

Never spend your time in such a way that you would not like God to say, "What are You doing?"
To consciously live in God's presence will aid us in cultivating through genuine piety and godly character. 

                                                                       ~ George Everard, "Daily Walking!" 1866


Just come HOME.

I love this.
It is simple yet profound.
Sweet, yet deeply moving.
"Never mind what you've done.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15

John MacArthur's notes read:
"Clearly, the father had been waiting and looking for his son's return.The father's eagerness and joy at his son's return is unmistakable. This is the magnificent attribute of God that sets Him apart from all the false gods invented by men and demons. He is not indifferent or hostile, but a Savior by nature, longing to see sinners repent, and rejoicing when they do. 
From the fall to the consummation, God has been and will be seeking to save sinners, and rejoicing each time one repents and is converted.
Notice that the son did not get to finish his rehearsed words of repentance before the father interrupted to grant forgiveness. This picture's God's eagerness to forgive.
Without a single word of rebuke for the past, the father pours out his love for the son, and expresses his joy that what was lost had been found."

And the best part is ... 
not only does God bid us "Come just as you are," He doesn't leave us that way!
Day by day, year by year, He continues the work He began on the day of salvation. Smoothing, shaping, refining ... making us look more and more like His Son.
How great is our God.

We do not need to get 'cleaned up' before we walk to the foot of the cross.
We just need to start moving.
And like the father with his prodigal son, God seeks us, and then welcomes us with open arms - 
because He loves us.
"Never mind what you've done.

So He told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15

How blessed we are to be in the sweet and tender care of the Great Shepherd!



"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do - do it all for the glory of God!" 
I Corinthians 10:31

This same principle is applicable in all common actions and everyday affairs. No single moment of our lives, no single action - ought to be taken outside of the sphere of this rule.
Our rising up and lying down,
the disposal of our time,
the spending of our money,
our social gatherings,
our conversations,
our recreations,
the way of conducting the affairs of our household,
the books we read,
buying and selling,
business transactions of various kinds -
all these, and a multitude of other suchlike matters, are all to be ordered under the daily guidance of this same principle. We are to do all to glorify Him who is . . .
  our Creator,
  our Savior
  our Preserver,
  our most loving Father.

Reader, beware of neglecting to exercise this universal principle in little things. Great occasions for serving God occur but seldom; lesser ones arise every moment. Little things are not to be despised. "He who despises little things, shall fall little by little." Little omissions of duty, little acts of disobedience, as they may seem to us - may prove a great hindrance along our path. A few grains of dust, or a small insect in the eye, will often cause great pain and annoyance. A little stone in a horse's foot will make it stumble again and again.

The Christian will find much the same thing from the indulgence of apparently trivial sins. 
They will . . .
  harass the mind,
  destroy the peace and comfort which he might enjoy,
  prove a stumbling-block to him as he endeavors to run the heavenly race.

~ George Everard, "The Right Principle!" 1866


God uses friends to remind us that He cares!

This has been a difficult week.
In all areas. Emotionally, physically, spiritually.
I slipped into "robot mode" on Monday so I could function, move, think, respond, and serve.
But as a dear friend says, "That shutting-off is the creation of an emotional grenade. All feelings that get buried get buried alive."
At some point, the emotions must be allowed to surface, and when they do, they need to be embraced, processed, and then filtered through the truths of Scripture.
I am almost ready to do that, but not quite.
I asked a friend to send me a selection of songs to push me into the process. Music is a powerful tool for me, and the Lord uses it to dig deep into the recesses of my heart to reveal all that is hidden therein. And I will admit, there is quite a bit waiting to be released.

I am not just a ninja master when it comes to 'shutting off.' I am also quite adept at doing so - in isolation.
There is no need to burden others with my problems, right? Why should they have to stop their lives to listen to me? They have their own struggles and sorrows, so there is no need to add mine to their pile.
Can anyone say "H Y P O C R I T E?"
I preach non-stop that we are to live out the One Another's of Scripture. I continually challenge women to share their trials so others know their needs and can serve them accordingly. I constantly quote Ephesians 6:2, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." I even rebuke women when they refuse to knock down their pride to say, "I need you."
And yet ... 
I have to force myself to do the same. A lesson that may, I fear, be life long.

But I am trying!
On Tuesday morning I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and ask for prayer. I sent a note to a handful of faithful prayer warriors with a brief description of my current state, remembering the time I was rebuked for not letting others in. "Michelle, when you don't share your struggles with us, you rob us the JOY of serving and loving you." I will never forget it.

Praise the Lord for godly, mature, faithful friends who love me enough to speak truth and not just tell me what I want to hear. Their responses were exactly what I needed - biblical, thoughtful, honest, and challenging. No coddling or "poor you's," but simple reminders of God's own words recorded in Scripture. 
When emotion begins to take control, TRUTH must take it back. And Scripture is the only place to find real truth.
Thank You, Lord, for the blessing of friendship, Your Word, and the body of Christ!
Oh, Michelle, that is a lot to handle all at once. I pray that you would be able to rest in the promises of God right now. He promises to supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19. I pray God would grant you the patience you need for each of your children and every circumstance that comes your way. That you will have wisdom. That you will be slow to anger and rich in mercy. That God would give you rest in the midst of all the demands on you! 

Michelle, I am so sympathetic to how you're feeling! I think anyone would be battling the temptation to feel completely overwhelmed. And yes, having the correct perspective is so needed, but the trial IS a real trial no matter how small or large. The enemies focus is the same...to destroy! 
I will really be praying for you to continue to keep your mind renewed in truth! I am praying that you would look back over these days as bringing such glory to God because you walked faithfully and steadily despite how tired, alone, and overwhelmed you might feel. Praying that each time you are tempted to respond according to your flesh, you remember Jesus is advocating on your behalf and that through Christ you can make it through these days victoriously! 
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

I am so glad I texted you. You are right you can't do this. God didn't design you to. Holding thoughts captive and abiding in Him is where the battle is won.
The Lord will be strong today in your weakness, sister! He has promised to be your source of strength and arm you with exactly what you need. He has created today for you to draw near to Him. 
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8
Aren't those notes wonderful?
Nothing but God's word and a challenge to act and think faithfully and obediently.
I LOVE this!
Especially because of the way my mind works. I can justify bad attitudes and incorrect thoughts and unbiblical perspectives simply because I want my way. And this does not please God!

This afternoon I put on a movie for the littles out of sheer laziness and was surprised to hear a knock at the door. I opened it to find a sweet sister holding a vase of flowers and a tasty treat, but the best part was seeing her smiling face! She said, "I just wanted to stop by to give you a hug and tell you I love you." Okay!
We chatted for a few minutes, she encouraged me in the Lord, told me how she was specifically praying for me, and when we parted ways I felt lighter - encouraged - refreshed. Just as it should be after spending time with a sister in Christ!

Like this gift, the work of the Lord is beautiful and sweet.
He allows us to walk through trials so we can be strengthened and find a greater resolve to follow and trust Him - even when we don't like our circumstances and/or they don't make sense.
Our God is GOOD. He is faithful. He is loving. He is sovereign. Not one thing happens without His knowledge. He cares for the sparrows of the air and the grass of the field, and He cares - for US.


Peace is what I crave!

I purchased these lovely "fruits of the spirit" watercolor cards some time ago simply because of their beauty. I was not sure what I would do with them at first, and then an idea came to me.
I purchased a small plate holder and place one of the cards on it each week so we can focus on that specific fruit.
I have not been able to walk through our family room without my eyes being drawn to the card, thereby forcing me to meditate on the fruit displayed and praying for the Lord to make it a tangible reality in our home.

This particular card will be staying in its place for another week. Or two. Or three.
Because we haven't acquired it yet.

I want peace to permeate our home. Not the peace that means 'quiet' but the peace that reflects contentment - stillness - gentleness - and joy.
I want peace to permeate our relationships. Those that are effortless and those that are difficult.
I want peace to permeate our hearts. A deep, satisfying inner joy that continually reminds us that "it is well with my soul."

Oh, Lord, may this desire become a reality!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

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

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:18