2.28.2017

We're doing it again!


We're doing it again!

DUCKS!

We had so much fun with this experiment last summer, we decided to embark on another duck-hatching adventure. We chose spring because, a) it's spring! New life is fitting and perfect for the spring season, b) it is 30 degrees cooler now than in the summer (caring for ducklings in 97+ degree heat was the 'fail' part of our first experiment), c) they will hatch a few weeks before Easter, d) one of my girls has an adorable bunny with which we can do a photo shoot with the ducklings, and e) watching God's creation unfold before your eyes is a miraculous joy to behold!

When we picked up the eggs today, the store owner gently reminded me there is no guarantee that the ducklings will hatch. After enjoying great success last time (nine of our twelve cracked through their shells), her reminder helped me manage my expectations. We could hatch twelve ducklings, or zero.
So - we asked the Lord to be gracious and grant us a repeat success, and hope His will matches ours!

Let the Great Duck Hatch commence!

2.26.2017

We can please God! And He is delighted when we do!

People-pleasing topic of study - ✓
It's done!
Three weeks of uncovering what it means, how it affects life, and how to replace incorrect thinking with biblical thinking.
Whew.
The study was intense, overwhelming, powerful, disturbing (seeing your own sin usually is), challenging, and encouraging. While we may have patterns of sin in our life, it does not mean we have to keep using the pattern. It can be torn, wadded up, and pitched into the trash bin, and then replaced with a better plan.
A plan created with biblical truth and righteousness.
Though time is needed to change behaviors and replace old thinking with new thinking, having the knowledge that it is necessary to do so provides strength and security to embark on a new way of living. It is not easy, but it will be life-changing, and therefore - totally worth the effort!

Though all of the remaining chapters were terrific, there is just one I want to highlight.
So What Exactly Does It Take To Please God?
If we are going to stop seeking the praise and approval of man, and no longer put all of our energy into making people happy (or trying not to make them unhappy), we have to replace it with something else, right? There is only one option - Please God!

Pleasing God requires faith.
Without saving faith, no one can please God.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact, the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:7-11
Changes that truly please God are internal: they are made in our hearts. Biblical change requires a transformation of our thoughts and motives.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Pleasing God requires walking with Him.
Your walk refers to your daily pattern of conduct - the way you conduct your inner and outer life.
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God ... Colossians 1:9, 10To walk with God is to advance or make progress in one's godliness - to become more like Christ.

Pleasing God requires sanctification (holiness).
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification ... I Thessalonians 4:1-3
Do you see your walk as an opportunity to bring pleasure to God as an expression of your love for Him? The Christian walk is not simply a matter of keeping your life relatively free from sin - it's a matter of your heart motives.
In your attempts to please God ... don't lose sight of the goal: becoming more like Christ.

Pleasing God requires your cooperation.
To please God, you must (by faith) do what the Bible says is necessary to grow as a Christian.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12, 13
So when we "work out" our own salvation - when we do those things that the Bible says cause us to grow as Christians - we are pleasing God. Think of that: your spiritual growth and the things you do to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the process of growth delight and bring pleasure to God.

Pleasing God requires doing good works.
God is pleased when you tangibly share the things He has given you with others.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

Pleasing God requires knowledge and wisdom.
The longer we walk with God and the harder we work for Him, the greater our knowledge of Him should be.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. II Peter 3:18
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. I Peter 2:2

Pleasing God requires gratitude (worship).
By giving thanks to the Lord for who He is and what He has done, you actually perform a service to God that brings Him pleasure.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28

Pleasing God requires godly ambition.
Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. II Corinthians 5:9, 10A person with godly ambition has such a heartfelt determination to bring pleasure to God that it penetrates everything he does - every thought, every decision, every word, every attitude.

This is my favorite part!
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
II Timothy 2:3,4
You have been selected to serve in God's army. He is the one from whom you take orders. You serve at His pleasure. If you are serious about learning to please the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, you won't allow anything to become so inextricably woven into your life that it distracts you from doing what He has enlisted you to do.

Amen?
AMEN!

Quote.

"There is no form of behavior that will please all men at all times. As a rule, what seems to please most people most of the time, and commands lasting praise is Christian character.
Sincere devotion to God, the ability to demonstrate genuine love to others, the faithful fulfillment of life's responsibilities, a pure and undefiled conscience, an unwavering commitment to justice, mercy and truth ... these are the qualities that render man truly respectable and great.
Such character may, at times, incur unjust reproach. But the clouds which form as a result of man's prejudice and envy will gradually disperse; and its [Christian character's] brightness will, in the end, shine through as the noonday sun.
Throughout history, the truly illustrious men and women were those who did not court the praise of this world, but who performed the actions which deserved it."
- Hugh Blair, 1827

2.25.2017

God is AMAZING!


Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalm 36:5

Thank You, Lord, for the beauty of Your creation that reminds us day by day, season by season that You are a God of order, beauty, and creativity.
You could have made every plant the same. Every tree the same size. Every flower the same color.
But You didn't.
Every sea creature could be a whale, every land creature a tortoise, every bird in the sky a parrot.
But they aren't.
Every human could be the same height, have green eyes, the same color of skin, speak one language, and view things from one perspective.
But they don't.

The reason our world is beautiful is because it is DIVERSE.
Each of us are created in the image of God. But after that? Individual design!
For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139

I love that we belong to a God who chose to make a variety of colors, scents, sounds, plant life, light, animals, insects, fruits, vegetables, clouds, weather, planets, stars - and people.
Every detail planned by Him, and every detail was declared, "It is GOOD!"

One of my FAVORITE things about creation is that it knows it's Creator!

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; 
let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! 
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 
before the Lord, for He comes, 
for He comes to judge the earth. 
He will judge the world in righteousness, 
and the peoples in His faithfulness.
Psalm 96

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, 
and all that is in them, saying,
“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Revelation 5

All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your name. Psalm 66:4

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Psalm 19:1

What an amazing God we serve!

2.24.2017

This and that. (AGAIN!)

With all of the rain we have enjoyed this season, I am eager to see the which flowers and plants will bloom this spring! Many will be our yearly favorites, to be sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion we will enjoy some new additions since there was enough water to produce proper growth.
The other day we walked outside to find our front yard filled with purple beauty. One day - nothing. The next day - color! God's creation ... such sights to behold!


Well, we are on Day 7 of illness in our home.
It started with the little people and ended with the parents.
I thought I would be spared, but when four of your six children AND your husband are knocked down with a virus, what are the odds you will survive?!
Dennis is bionic, so he is able to function regardless of severe body aches and pain, but me? Not so much.
This has been my view for the last three days. A lovely view, but I am ready for a new one, please!
Right side. Sleep.
Left side. Sleep.
Back. Sleep.
Rinse and repeat.
How thankful I am for teenage boys in the house! Since I barely had the energy to lift my head, I was not able to teach lessons to Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie, but we needed to finish two books in order to move on to a new subject next week. Enter Micah and Luke.
Each one of them read a book for me, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie appreciated new voices, and our lessons were tied up with a neat bow for the week.
Thank You, Lord, for small graces such as these!

~~~ I am making a new commitment. Every time I see someone praying in public, I am going to walk over and say, "Thank you for praying publicly!" Between the fear of praying out loud and the dread of being mocked as Christians, we need to support those who willingly and intentionally give thanks to the Lord in the presence of strangers. 
I remember someone doing this to me, how encouraged I felt, and I want to offer that same encouragement to someone else.
I will never forget it. I spent a few hours at a restaurant with one of my girls, engaged in a very deep-hearted discussion, so I did not want to let her go without taking her before the Lord. We stood on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, held hands, prayed, and cried. We knew people had walked past us, for we heard them, and when we looked up we found a large man, smiling down on us who said, "Thank you for praying so boldly in public. It is nice to see."
What a wonderful way to end our time together!
I think about doing this every time I observe others pray over a meal, but I never do it. Not anymore!
Who will join me?
Heaven only knows how many wonderful opportunities the Lord will provide through this!

~~~ Though INtrinsic motivation is a life skill that enables a person to accomplish much and succeed at many things because they are self-driven, there is something to be said for EXtrinsic motivation. 
While the desire to work hard and push further may not be natural (yet), a little enticement can get a student to do more than they thought possible.
When it comes to learning how to read, especially when you have to fight for every sound, every word, and every sentence, there has to be something to get you excited!
Being that I do not have a creative turn of mind, I was not prepared with even one extrinsic motivator. So I prayed, "Help!" And the Lord provided BUTTONS!
Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie get one button every time they read me a book and one button if they work through their reading lesson without complaining. 25 buttons = A Surprise!
Boy, you would think I offered them a new Lego set for every book they complete!
Score one for the mom! Thank You, Lord!

The happy daffodils my friend delivered on Monday are in full bloom!
Every time I look at them I hear the song from Mary Poppins.
Oh, it's a jolly holiday with Mary
Mary makes your heart so light
When the day is gray and ordinary
Mary makes the sun shine bright
Oh, happiness is bloomin' all around her
The daffodils are smilin' at the dove
When Mary holds your hand, you feel so grand
Your heart starts beatin' like a big brass band
It's a jolly holiday with Mary
No wonder that it's Mary that we love!


Last night my sister showed up with dinner for our family and a giant coffee cake for breakfast, and this morning a lovely woman brought over a huge pot of beef soup and turnovers for dinner tonight.
How grateful I am for helping hands such as these!

~~~ Enjoy your weekend, and may the Lord bless you and your family with health and strength in the days ahead!

2.20.2017

This and that. (again)

This is what sickness looks like at our house.
People sleeping on the bathroom floor because it is "easier that way."
Who wants to sleep in a nice, soft, comfy bed when you can sleep right next to a toilet?
Um, ME! That's who!
But all of my boys agree that convenience trumps comfort when you have the flu.
So be it!
We had three kids drop at the same time, and are hoping it ends there. Recovering from three sick family members is far easier than recovering after eight!
The laundry alone is enough to make a person crazy!
Bedding + clothing + towels =
one load per person.
They feel much better today, so I am thankful it was a quick round.
I was a little overzealous in my school lesson goals for today, however. Feeling "better" is not the same as feeling GREAT, so we only managed to get through half of our studies. But SOMEthing is better than nothing, right?

~~~ Sadly, our Family Weekend we had waited for and looked forward to was thwarted because of the illness rolling through our home, and I had to work hard to take my thoughts captive and trust that the Lord had a purpose in not letting us be together as planned.
Our family NEEDED this weekend. Grief and mourning are incredibly difficult, and though each of us needs to walk through the process in our own personal way, we also need to grieve with each other. Scripture is very clear about this. "Weep with those who weep ..." It is a command, not a request.
We had plans. A plan to minister to my step-father as he mourns the loss of his eldest son. A plan for me to minister to CC after losing her precious mother. A plan to remember. A plan to pray.
But the Lord's plans always supersede our own. And I have to be okay with that.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9


Lord, this entire weekend happened according to Your will. Forgive me for not surrendering quickly and obediently. Thank You that we were together, able to hug, talk, smile, and share some confidences. It was not enough time for US, but it was sufficient for YOU. Burden our hearts for one another so we can pray for each other and offer encouragement and support exactly when it is needed. Our entire family is in Your hands, and because they are - we can trust You with every detail.

When the friend you are supposed to be serving, but with whom you had to cancel because your fellow servants are sick shows up at your door with groceries and daffodils - you know you are truly friends.
And BLESSED!
We had to cancel our G3 today. Such a bummer.
But, our one-year anniversary is in one month, so our families are meeting at a park for an Anniversary Picnic to commemorate our year together.
I cannot believe a year has passed since Julie and I sat on the sands of Huntington Beach together, she with tears streaming down her face, and me with a passion for finding my "lepers." Before we even said goodbye, the Lord made it abundantly clear that He was letting her family become my lepers. And He has been faithful to maintain the passion not only in my heart but in the hearts of my children as they love on our G3 as soon as they pull into the driveway.

This is the first picture we took together. (March 2016)
I have said it before and I will say it again. The Lord used these children to CHANGE our family!
Serving them has been one of the best decisions we ever made. And the Lord orchestrated every single detail. He is such a faithful and loving God who cares for our needs, no matter how simple or small.
The Guskes needed us, and we needed them. And the Lord knew it.

Thank You, Father, for such a precious gift! You burdened the hearts of the Guskes to rescue orphans, and they faithfully and enthusiastically obeyed. Then You burdened us to serve families who were caring for orphans, and it has been a wonderful, joyful, encouraging relationship ever since. You are so good to know our needs and meet them. Thank You, Lord. For everything.

2.19.2017

Quote.

The door of heaven is so low that no one can enter in by it unless they will bow their heads. 
~ Charles Spurgeon

2.17.2017

This and that.

Guess who joined the 21st century - and now owns her own iPhone?
Yep. ME!
I held out for nine years and was hoping I could wait nine more, but alas, the time has come.
Being that I am home 20 hours a day, I will probably accrue few hours on the device (I currently average 12-17 minutes per month on my flip phone), but I need to be available when I am out and about.
Life is changing. Needs are greater. Trials are becoming more difficult. When I am serving someone, or caring for their children, or hosting an Orphan Care event, or just walking through hard moments with a friend, people need to be able to have access to me. So now - they have it!
After using the device to serve and minister to others, I am most looking forward to having access to MAPS! I have a horrible sense of direction and get lost all the time so this will be like a perpetual life ring, saving me from myself, and getting me where I need to go. Woohoo!

We had a fun Valentine's Night!
Dinner, a light-hearted and thoughtful "why I love you" activity in which we wrote notes of appreciation to each other, dessert, and a paper airplane contest!
Bigs vs. Littles
The winners from each group then competed in the championship round.
Grand Prize: $1.00 (and bragging rights, of course!)

Eastmans are competitive by nature, so it was a lively activity filled with screaming, cheering, good-natured ribbing, and complaining about poorly designed aircraft. (Operator error to be sure!)
We had FUN together and we laughed a lot. Just what we needed!


~~~ My brother and CC and the kids are down here for the weekend - and I am so thankful.
Our entire family needs to be together, to laugh, talk, encourage, support, and comfort one another because we have walked through some trying experiences since the first of the year.
Joy and sorrow are mixed together in this life, so we can rejoice and weep at the same time ... just as God intended!

One of my girls is ENGAGED!
Brett proposed to Karen - and she said YES!
Her sister threw a surprise engagement party for her, and Dennis and I were privileged to be on the guest list, so we were there to hear her joyfully declare, "I am ENGAGED!" and then see her glowing face when she walked through the door.
What a fun evening!
Brett graciously invited our COMMITTED group, so some of the girls were able to celebrate with their sister!
Karen is the ninth COMMITTED member to get married. What a delight it is to share in such life-changing moments with these young women! How I love them!


~~~ Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie started their spring Biola classes today. They were so excited they packed their bags yesterday afternoon and had their lunches made and water bottles filled by3 pm! Their enthusiasm makes me happy. Every activity is wonderful and every stranger becomes a friend.

While they spend three hours on campus, I enjoy that time in a coffee shop reading, writing, or just staring at the wall. It is wonderful.
As soon as I sat down at my table this morning, a young man walked over and asked if he could conduct a short interview with me for his college class. "Sure!" (I love surveys!)
Five questions. And each one was about the Lord! I was equally surprised and delighted, and a couple of his questions were GOOD! Thought-provoking. Love it!
What a fun way to start the day!

~~~ Apparently we need to be building our Arks here in southern California as torrential rains are headed our way. I can't WAIT!

The older my people get the more I want to hold on to every moment.
Micah will be a senior next year.
Luke a junior.
Caleb - 8th grade
Josiah - 4th
Isaiah - 3rd
Ellie - 2nd
Where has the time gone?
No more babies, no more toddlers ... just teens and kids. As much as I miss the baby years, I am enjoying this stage of our family life. There is always something going on - constant noise and activity - conversations - interactions - laughter - wrestling - jokes - movies - games - reading - music ...
it is WONDERFUL!

~~~ Happy weekend to you!
May it be filled with sweet moments, encouraging conversations, words of praise, quiet hours reading Scripture, and time spent in prayer.
May we all surrender the weekend to the Lord so He is glorified in all we do!

2.16.2017

It is a JOY to please God!

This book just gets better and better! (Though still incredibly convicting and challenging. The chapter on Pride? WHOA!)
Chapter eight was a breath of fresh air after the Pride chapter because everything in it focuses on the characteristics of a God-pleaser.
We were made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, amen?
So, how do we do that?
Let's take a look!

The characteristics of a God-pleaser.

- "He studies the Scriptures to understand exactly what it takes to please God.
He spends plenty of time in the Word and plenty of time getting the Word into his heart.
Pleasing God requires doing His will. But you can't do His will unless you first know it. The God-pleaser wants to understand what the will of his Lord is. (Eph. 5:17)
The person who delights in the Lord delights in the Scriptures."

- "In everything he does, he is conscious of pleasing God.
His mind is set "on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth." Colossians 3:2
In every decision he makes, he knows that he is choosing either to please God or to displease Him.
What will God think if I do this?"

- "When he pleases people, he does so out of loving motives, not selfish ones. He knows that love gives people what they need, not necessarily what they want."
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39

- "He knows it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Because the man who loves to please God is not consumed by selfishness or fear, his focus is on what he can give, not on what he can get."

- "He considers amending not only his actions, but also his thoughts and motives.
Sanctifying this inner man, whom no one but the Lord sees, is the ambition of this God-fearing Christian."
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9, 10

- "He is concerned about fulfilling not only his public duties but also his private ones.
Behind closed doors, he worships God, thanking Him for who He is and for all He has done. He confesses his sin to God, and repents of it. He agonizes in intercessory prayer. He gives of his money and material possessions in secret. He prepares his heart for worship before he goes to church. He reads and studies his Bible regularly. He meditates on Scripture. He cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the sanctification process.  He cares for his soul and for the souls of those for whom he is responsible. And if anyone tries to pressure him into additional public service, he will not accept it if, in his heart, he knows it will keep him from fulfilling his private obligations."
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. Psalm 101:2
* This is one of my favorites! How I long to be this person!

- "He is more concerned with what God sees in his heart than what man sees in his appearance.
He is performing on God's stage for an audience of One.
Though many others may be watching, he considers the applause of God to be better and sweeter, more thunderous and more glorious than the applause of all the kings and rulers, celebrities, and dignitaries he will ever hope to meet."

- "He programs his conscience by the Bible rather than by the culture."

- "He does not shy away from necessary conflict or confrontation.
A God-pleaser is a true peacemaker. He is willing to confront sin when it is biblically necessary - even if it results in conflict, rejection, the oss of a friendship, or even persecution. As much as he may dread the conversation, he dreads the thought of displeasing God even more."
He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue. Proverbs 28:23

And for the icing on the cake:
"... set your mind on becoming the kind of person who seeks to please God first and foremost and to please man only as a fruit of your intense desire to please God."

His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor His pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love. 
Psalm 147:10, 11

2.12.2017

Happy Birthday, Micah!


Micah Steven,

Seventeen years ago the Lord brought you into our lives, and it was one of the greatest gifts we could have asked for, and received.
You have always been a sweet, fun, affectionate son and you have brought us much joy.
You are loquacious, entertaining, thoughtful, a deep thinker, loyal to your family and your friends, eager to please, quick to forgive, encouraging, and tender-hearted.
As the first born, you take your role of leadership in the home seriously and step up whenever you are needed, even when you would rather do something else. You serve, support, and challenge your siblings, and they respect you.
You are a wonderful son, Micah. 
We are proud of how hard you work, how much you push yourself when things are difficult, and how willing you are to tackle hard things even though you must sacrifice to do so. The effort you put in now will reap great dividends when you are a man. A strong work ethic only increases when put into practice over time.
We love you, and we pray the Lord will continue to shape you into the man He wants you to be and accomplish the plans He has for you ... for His glory and for your good.
Happy Birthday, Micah.
I love you, 
Mom

Does not wisdom call? 
Does not understanding raise her voice? 
Hear, for I will speak noble things, 
  and from my lips will come what is right ...
All the words of my mouth are righteous; 
  there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. 
Take my instruction instead of silver, 
  and knowledge rather than choice gold, 
  for wisdom is better than jewels, 
  and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. 
I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, 
  and I find knowledge and discretion. 
I have counsel and sound wisdom; 
I have insight; I have strength. 
I love those who love me, 
  and those who seek me diligently find me.
And now, O sons, listen to me:
  blessed are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise,
  and do not neglect it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
  watching daily at my gates,
  waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
  and obtains favor from the Lord,
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
  all those who hate me love death.
Proverbs 8

2.10.2017

God's approval is SUFFICIENT!

It's here!
The HOPE is HERE!

I am reading this book with one of my girls, and when we got to these chapters (after feeling abused by the first four), we sent each other texts that could have been expressed with nothing more than smiling emojis. (about 100 of them!) Like cool water flowing down a parched throat in a dusty desert, the refreshing joy of Hope is more delightful after walking in the darkness of frustration and discouragement.

So, are you ready?

Let's be encouraged - together!


Chapter Five: You Can't Please All of the People Even Some of the Time

- "There may be no more powerful argument to persuade you to stop seeking the approval of man than that of the profound folly, futility, and utter impossibility of trying to please all of the people some of the time."

- "It is fruitless to try to please men because each person is different and therefore, by pleasing some, you will inevitably displease others.
When you add man's sinful heart into the equation, the statistical probability of pleasing even some men all of the time is infinitesimally small."

- "The only thing that seems to please most of the people most of the time and command enduring and consistent praise is true Christian character. But even genuinely Christlike character can be misunderstood and will displease some."

- "It is unrealistic to try to please people because selfishness distorts their thinking and raises the expectations above that which you can reasonably fulfill."

- "Sin has affected man's entire thought process - his perceptions, his reasoning ability, his judgment, his motives, his appetites, his desires, and his expectations. Why, then, would you trust his ability to discern your character and determine the basis on which he approves or disapproves of you? Why trust him to determine the standard by which he accepts or rejects you?"

- "Remember that men are so selfish that their expectations will be greater than you will be able to satisfy. They will not consider those things that might prevent you from giving them what they desire, such as your ministry to others, or your job, or your necessary diversionary activities. They want you all to themselves as though you had no one else to care for but them." - Richard Baxter (1600's)

- "It is unreasonable to try to please people because even among Christians, judgmental attitudes and critical spirits are all too prevalent.
The truth is, even though we know it's wrong, and even though we do not want other to do it to us, most of us regularly make very unloving judgments about others. Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. Ecclesiastes 7:21, 22
God is the only One who evaluates us righteously."

- "It is futile to try to please people because even Jesus Christ, the perfect man, did not please everyone.
Even with all of His virtues ... He did not prevent everyone from speaking evil against Him and rejecting Him."

- "It is useless to try to please people because they are fundamentally incapable of being pleased by anyone or anything other than Christ.
The only hope you and I have of pleasing people is by introducing them to the only One who can truly please and satisfy them - the Lord Jesus Christ."

Chapter Six: But You Can Please God

- "Learning to please God instead of man is the single greatest remedy to the problem of pleasing man.
Is it your ambition to please God? 
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15

Benefits of Pleasing God Rather Than People

---> You have only one Master to please rather than many. "If you seek first to please God and are satisfied with that, you have but one to please instead of multitudes; and a multitude of masters are harder to please than one." - Richard Baxter
---> The One you please is wiser than man and will neither misunderstand you nor treat you unreasonably.
How many times have you been misunderstood by others? How often have your words, actions, attitudes, thoughts, and motives been misjudged by those closest to you? Yet how many times has the Lord misunderstood you? He has never misread, misjudged, misunderstood, or misconstrued anything about you.
---> The One you please will judge you not on outward appearance, but on that which is in your heart.
God is the only one who can see and rightly evaluate all our external and internal behavior.
---> The One you please is immutable.
Unlike man, whose mind often changes with the minutest bit of "new information," God's mind doesn't change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8
The things that please man today may very well displease him tomorrow.
Man changes his mind regularly. God doesn't change His.
---> The One you please will not be influenced by talebearers, gossips, or false accusers. Neither will He be misled by misinformation.
Only God knows who is telling the truth and who is lying. He cannot be misled by any variety of falsehood, no matter how cleverly disguised. His opinion of you is totally unaffected by misinformation that others are prone to believe about you.

And here it is - the icing on the cake for this section! Encouragement times 1,000!

"Your primary calling in life is to please and glorify God in all that you do. The knowledge that you are walking worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects (Colossians 1:10), should be a source of peace, security, joy, and contentment that will prevail over any fear of man's disapproval. If God is pleased with your life, what does it matter if man is displeased? God's approval and favor is a sufficient reward."

2.09.2017

I want MORE!

Dennis brought these lovely flowers home Monday evening. (Purple petals make me happy!)
After arranging them in a vase, I set them down on a table and moved on to other activities and chores. It wasn't until the next morning that I noticed the flowers were placed right next to my Bible, and something about the combination made me stop in my tracks. I stood there, staring at the two objects until the Lord let me see it. The stark contrast. And I smiled.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand foreverIsaiah 40:8 


Isn't it wonderful?
I know that verse. I have read it a hundred times, quoted it, listened to sermons about it, and worshiped with it in song.
I have seen flowers next to my Bible many times, but never once in 45 years of life have I ever noticed the beautiful biblical promise portrayed by fragile, frail flowers positioned next to the Word of God. As a visual person, this image makes the verse come ALIVE! Thank You, Lord!
(If I was an artist, I would translate this to watercolors. Wouldn't it be lovely?)

I was curious to know how many other Scriptures proclaimed the truth of the unchanging, always dependable God we love and serve, and was pleased to find so many others that support the promise of Isaiah 40. If the Word of God will stand forever, our God will stand forever, because He IS the Word! In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. John 1:1, 2

It may seem silly to some, but the image of the Bible next to these beautiful, purple pieces of His creation has revived my passion for His Word, and I want to know it MORE.
Lord! Increase my desire, passion, and commitment to Your Word! May I hide it in my heart so I might not sin against You, know it so well that I am always able to give an answer for the hope that lies within me, handle it correctly, use it as a lamp and a light to guide my way, and be found competent and equipped for every good work because of the time I spend reading it, meditating on it, and praying through it. Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Scripture!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. Malachi 3:6

God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19  

So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. Hebrews 6:18  

Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but You are the same, and Your years have no end. Psalm 102:25-27 

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:28 

If we are faithless, He remains faithfulfor He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

2.08.2017

Obedience is beautiful.

The Lord blessed me through a thoughtful conversation with a sister in Christ Sunday morning. A sister with whom I have worshiped for a few years but never had occasion to meet, until three days ago. She is an elegant and stylish woman, so after complimenting her lovely outfit, we engaged in a twenty-minute conversation that took a turn I was not expecting. I am not sure how it happened exactly, but we landed on the topic of miscarriage and infertility, and before I knew it we were sharing personal stories and discussing the fact that some of the hardest trials in life are the least discussed. I was encouraged by her honesty, her vulnerability, and her sincerity, and after parting ways the Lord kept drawing my thoughts to the miscarriage ministry.

Almost every time we receive a note from a woman requesting our hand-written letters, she shares her surprise with how little help/support there is for women who have suffered a miscarriage or are battling the sorrows of infertility. When I lost Matthew I searched and searched for support groups or websites or anything that would help me through the grief, the pain, and the heartache I was feeling. I wanted to find someone who understood, someone who "got it." But my search was in vain. It has been almost a decade since that time, and while there are more resources available, there are not enough

Rewind to the conversation I enjoyed with my newly-discovered sister on Sunday. When we are hurting, we should not have to search the internet to find support or uncover someone who identifies with our pain. We should only have to look within the four walls of our church. We should only have to look into the faces of our sisters in Christ. We should only have to bend the ear of a pastor or an elder. The body of Christ is made up of millions of believers who have walked where we walk, survived the same trials we are currently trudging through, healed from the hurts we are experiencing, and found JOY in the morning after weeping that lasted long through the night.
In short - we have each other.

We belong to a God who is wholly sufficient to meet all of our needs, yet He chose to give us people with whom we can walk through the valleys and climb to the mountaintops. Flesh on flesh, shoulder to shoulder, face to face RELATIONSHIPS.
Whether those relationships are lived out through public support groups or private conversations matters not. What matters is that we are serving one another, encouraging one another, and comforting one another just as God Himself comforted us when we needed Him most.

How thankful I am for the women in our ministry! They willingly relive the pain of their own loss(es) to minister to women whose pain is fresh and overwhelming. They empathize with, speak truth to, share Christ's love with, pray for, and offer hope to women who reach out to us with broken hearts and a sometimes paralyzing fear that the wounds will never heal.
Every time these sisters write a note of encouragement they become living examples of Scripture, and someone is blessed because of their obedience.
Just as God intended.
And it is beautiful.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11
Weeping may last through the night, but JOY comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Miscarriage Ministry WEBSITE 

2.07.2017

Danger - don't please people! Please God.

And the fun continues! <she said with dripping sarcasm>

Chapters 3 and 4 - The Dangers of Being a People-Pleaser

* Inordinate people-pleasing brings you into bondage by enslaving you to everyone whom you desire to please.
- "Ironically, most of the time, they are unaware that they have such control over you. That's because it is you yourself who gives them this power."
- "The intense desire for man's praise and approbation puts them in bondage to man by tempting them to make decisions based on what others will think of them rather than on what God will think of them."

* The excessive love of praise takes from you the honor you so eagerly seek.
- "Those from whom you long to receive honor and those whom you desire to impress will eventually be offended (if not repulsed) by the pride that generates your lusts."
- "If seeing pride in others turns you off, don't you think others will be turned off to you when they perceive your pride? Pride is the sin out of which people-pleasing flows." (Desiring/loving the praise of others rather than pleasing God. Idolatry.)

* Immoderate people-pleasing causes you to lose eternal rewards.
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." Matthew 6:1
- "Whether or not you do so consciously, when your motives are to please man rather than God, you are longing not to be rewarded by your Father in heaven, but to be seen (and rewarded) by men."
- "The question to ask yourself is, "On whose stage am I performing, God's or man's?"

* The inordinate desire for approval blinds you to your own sin.

How lust for man's approval blinds you to sin.
- Pride tempts you to exaggerate your virtues.
- Pride tempts you to minimize your flaws.
- Pride tempts you to distort and magnify the seriousness of your flaws.
- Pride tempts you to change things in your life according to man's priorities rather than the agenda of the Holy Spirit.
- Pride focuses your attention on changing the outer man more than the inner man.
"The changes made by the approval addict are often external issues having little to do with character."
"Character is eternal." Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. I Timothy 4:7,8
- An excessive love of praise tempts you to believe man's opinion of yourself over God's opinion.
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? John 5:44

* The inordinate desire for approval makes you susceptible to flattery and renders you more vulnerable to deception and manipulation from others.
"Flattery makes the good about you seem better than it is, and the bad about you seem less than it is."
- "The people-pleaser delights to hear others embellish his character and minimize his weaknesses."
- "He seeks out these reports rather than looking in the mirror of God's Word."
- "The act of flattery is an act of deceit."
He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue. Proverbs 28:23

* Immoderate people-pleasing robs the approval-seeker of his peace and joy.
- "By seeking to please man rather than God, you set yourself up to be plagued by anxiety. Anxiety (or worry) will steal the peace and joy that are part of your birthright as a Christian. How much time do you spend thinking about how to avoid displeasing others?"
- "When you are overly concerned about displeasing others, you are worrying about what they will think of you or how they might reject you or how they might cause you grief in some other way. And worry is sin."
- "Worrying consumes an inordinate amount of time that could be better spent thinking about and doing those things that are eternally profitable."
- " Investing so much of your time, effort, and thought in trying to please people rather than God is truly an exasperating exercise in futility."
                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hold on!
HOPE is just around the corner!
Weeding sin out of our lives is hard, painful work. But it has a reward!
Focus on this passage while the work continues.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

2.04.2017

The gift of Family.


One of my favorite things about having teens and little kids in our family is watching their interactions with each other. 
On a daily basis they deal with the usual conflicts that come from living in a house with eight people: frustration, quarrels, invasion and lack of personal space, misunderstandings, and petty annoyances. Thankfully, they are able to resolve their differences pretty quickly, and life moves on. (Patience, long-suffering, and a gracious tone of voice are main topics of discussion in our home. Parents included!)

I think it is because they live real life with one another, all day, every day, constantly working out their differences in every area (personality, habits, strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes), that the moments of harmony and mutual delight are all the sweeter.

Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie share many things in common, but they also exhibit vast differences in personality. Their diverse character qualities and personalities can either draw them tightly together, or repel them from one another. It just depends on the day! My favorite days? When they are unified in purpose. Gleaning in a field, serving our Orphan Care families, cleaning the house for guests, laughing with Tim Hawkins, celebrating a birthday, or playing flag football in the backyard ... these are the memories I store up in my heart ... because they are wonderful!

My prayer is that our children will one day come to understand and fully embrace the beauty of our family, with all of it's challenges and imperfections, and give glory to God for intentionally choosing each one of them as an Eastman and providing them a training ground for life, 
right here in the four walls of our house. 

Thank You, Father, for the gift of family.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above ... James 1:17







Pleasing God matters more.

Between reading God's Word,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 
II Timothy 3:16,17

the work I am doing in my discipleship relationship,
And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:11-16

and this book,
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, 
I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

I.cannot.catch.a.break. The Lord has me on the wrestling mat, and like Jacob, I want to say, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." Genesis 32:26
And so, the match continues!

I had no idea this book existed until our pastor recommended it from the pulpit. I was sitting next to one of my sweet girls with whom I have shared many conversations on this very topic, so when Pastor Philip named the title we looked directly at each other and said, "We need that book!" And ordered it that day.

It never ceases to amaze me how often we see things in a one-sided fashion. We justify or deny a particular stronghold because we can only view it through one lens until someone comes along with a new lens and shows us what we could not (or would not) see before. Mr. Priolo does this very thing, without apology and with great passion.
I highly recommend adding this volume to your biblical resource library!

I have a feeling the two of us are not the only ones who battle the sin of "loving the approval of men rather than the approval of God" (John 12:43), so I hope these quotes from the first chapter will offer both a challenge and the encouragement needed to pull out the sinful weeds that seek the praises of men and replace them with godly roots that are content with pleasing God.

                                         ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The author lists ten symptoms that identify the sin of people-pleasing in the heart of a believer and states, "The presence of even one characteristic should be all that is necessary to convict a sincere Christian of the presence of a toxic level of pride in his heart."

Are you ready? Hold on tight, because it's going to be a bumpy ride!

"There are usually two sides to idolatry. The first side involves neglecting God. The other involves replacing Him with a cheap substitute. As with any other form of idolatry, the sin of people-pleasing also has two sides. Love of man's approval is accompanied by the flip side of the coin: fear of losing someone's approval or fear of being rejected."

"It's bad enough to inordinately long for the approval of others. It's much worse when such longings transcend one's longing for God."

"The love of man's approval is inextricably bound to the fear of man's disapproval."

"A people-pleaser is not a peacemaker, but rather a peace-lover. A peace-lover is so afraid of conflict that he will avoid it almost all costs. He is so concerned about "keeping the peace" with his fellow man that he is often willing to forfeit the peace of God that comes from standing up and suffering for the truth. He is essentially a coward at heart."

"His heart (the people-pleaser) so craves being held in high esteem by others (and to hear their praises) that little room is left to entertain thoughts of what he might do to acquire God's praise. In reality, pleasing God doesn't matter much to him because he is so intent on pleasing man."

"The people-pleaser overreacts to any hint of disapproval. He sees any constructive criticism or suggestion for improvement as a threat to his reputation rather than as an opportunity to grow or as an indication of the reprover's love for him. This oversensitivity may take the form of anger, bitterness, or hatred. It may show up in the form of withdrawing, sulking, or pouting."

"It's bad enough for a person to think he is responsible for the blessings and achievements in his life. It is far worse to use those blessings to promote one's own glory and reputation rather than the glory and reputation of the One who is truly responsible for them. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." James 1:17

"The person who loves approval invests more of his time, effort, thought, or money in establishing and maintaining his own reputation than he does in furthering the reputation of Christ."

"The people-pleaser is discontented with his status in life. Rather than being thankful for what has been given to him ... the approval-seeking idolator covets the honor-producing blessings that God has given to others. Perhaps the saddest thing about such a person is that he will never be satisfied, no matter how much approval he is able to generate."
                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brutal, yes?
Do not be discouraged!
Solutions and HOPE for a new way of thinking and responding will be presented. (not for a few more chapters <grin>, but they will come!)
Think on this beautiful verse in the waiting ...
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7

2.03.2017

Quote. God CARES!

"Cast all your care on Him because He cares about you!" 1 Peter 5:7
"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book." Psalm 56:8

Jehovah is deeply interested in the welfare of all His people! He has  . . .
  formed them for Himself,
  redeemed them by the blood of Immanuel, and
  new created them by the energy of the Comforter! 

He is interested . . .
  in all their needs, 
  in all their troubles, 
  in all their trials, 
  in all their persecutions, 
  in all their temptations, 
  in all their afflictions
  and in their death! 

Yes, there is nothing belonging to a believer, but what Jehovah is concerned about: 
  from their tiny trifles of today - to their ponderous concerns of eternity; 
  from their feeble flutterings of anxiousness - to the redemption of their immortal soul! 
All and everything that concerns them - their heavenly Father is interested in, and concerned about!

O if the Lord's family did but believe this, that the minutest thing that belongs to them, the least circumstance of their lives, and everything connected with that circumstance, is a matter of concern to Jehovah - how happy would they live, how cheerfully would they pass along the 'journey of life' and commit all to the keeping of their God!

The believer brings to the Lord his sins, trials, griefs, and woes - and the Lord bestows His pardon, riches, relief, and consolation! 

Christian, what a thought is this!
"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you!" Psalm 55:22

- James Smith, "Fellowship with God" 1849

2.02.2017

Encouragement.


My sister-in-law shared this poem with me a couple of weeks ago after a friend slipped in into a gift intended to lift her spirits. The poem encouraged her so much she just had to share it! As soon as I read it, I wholeheartedly agreed with her. Whether penned last week or 100 years ago, truth is truth, and Scripture is always fitting for the need of the moment.
On any given day there are dozens of hurting, broken, grieving hearts beating inside of people who need to be reminded that our God is good, His ways are perfect, and His love is real. 
I pray this poem encourages those hearts.

"My times are in Thy hand." Psalm 31:15

Father, I know that all my life 
Is portioned out for me, 
And the changes that are sure to come, 
I do not fear to see; 
But I ask Thee for a present mind 
Intent on pleasing Thee. 

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love, 
Through constant watching wise, 
To meet the glad with joyful smiles, 
And to wipe the weeping eyes; 
And a heart at leisure from itself, 
To soothe and sympathise. 

I would not have the restless will 
That hurries to and fro, 
Seeking for some great thing to do 
Or secret thing to know; 
I would be treated as a child, 
And guided where I go. 

Wherever in the world I am, 
In whatsoe'er estate, 
I have a fellowship with hearts 
To keep and cultivate; 
And a work of lowly love to do 
For the Lord on whom I wait. 

So I ask Thee for the daily strength, 
To none that ask denied, 
And a mind to blend with outward life 
While keeping at Thy side; 
Content to fill a little space, 
If Thou be glorified. 

And if some things I do not ask, 
In my cup of blessing be, 
I would have my spirit filled the more 
With grateful love to Thee - 
More careful - not to serve Thee much, 
But to please Thee perfectly. 

There are briers besetting every path, 
That call for patient care; 
There is a cross in every lot, 
And an earnest need for prayer; 
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee 
Is happy anywhere. 

In a service which Thy will appoints, 
There are no bonds for me, 
For my inmost heart is taught "the truth" 
That makes Thy children "free;" 
And a life of self-renouncing love 
Is a life of liberty.

~ Anna Laetitia Waring (1823-1910)

2.01.2017

Scripture comforts - and heals.

Sometimes, when words are not adequate, the Lord can use music to soothe a hurting, grieving heart.
How blessed we are to belong to a God who never, ever leaves us - and will not forsake us.
Even in the darkest days.
Thank You, Lord, for the comfort and beauty of Scripture, and the truth it reveals when we need it most.


"Psalm 23"

The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want
In green pastures He makes me lie down
He restores my soul and leads me on for His Name
for His great Name

surely goodness, surely mercy
right beside me all my days
and I will dwell in Your house forever
and bless Your Holy Name

You prepare a table right before me
in the presence of my enemies
though the arrow flies and the terror of night is at my door 
I'll trust you, Lord

surely goodness, surely mercy
right beside me all my days
and I will dwell in Your house forever
and bless Your Holy Name

even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
You are on my side
even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
You are on my side

surely goodness, surely mercy
right beside me all my days
and I will dwell in Your house forever
and bless Your Holy Name