4.26.2017

Contentment. I am still learning!

There are certain authors who cut me to the core with their words. And I LOVE IT!
Their words are hard, requiring thought, prayer, and much humility to swallow, but oh, how worthy it is to engage with them!

Expressing the convictions, revelations, and encouragement found in the pages of a book such as this with another brother/sister in Christ enriches the study and increases the profit of the pursuit.
If you have never done so (or have not done so in a long while), choose an excellent piece of godly literature and read it with a brother/sister in Christ. Exchange thoughts, questions, and personal applications. Pray together. You will be amazed at the blessings which follow!

I highly recommend this book. A fantastic piece for any believer's library!

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11, 12

This word, “I have learned,” is a word which imports difficulty. It shows how hard the apostle came by contentment of mind; it was not bred in nature.
The business of true religion is not so easy as most imagine.
It is an easy thing to be wicked; hell will be taken without storm; but matters of piety must be learned.”

“… the art of divine contentment is not achieved without holy industry.” “I have LEARNED.”

Matters of practice. As, self-denial. As for a man to deny his own wisdom, and see himself blind. As to have his own will, and have it melted into the will of God. As to be plucking out the right eye, beheading and crucifying that sin which is the favorite and lies nearest to the heart. As for a man to be dead to the world, and in the midst of need to abound. As for him to take up the cross, and follow Christ, not only in golden - but in bloody paths. As to embrace religion, when it is dressed in rags, and all the jewels of honor and preferment are pulled off. All this is against nature - and therefore must be learned.”

“Likewise with self-examination, for a man to take his heart, as a watch, all in pieces; to set up a spiritual inquisition, and traverse things in his own soul; to take David’s candle and lantern, and search for sin …”

God’s Spirit speaks sweetly - but irresistibly.”

“Let us make this our prayer, “Lord, breathe Your Spirit into Your Word!”

A gracious spirit is a contented spirit. The doctrine of contentment is very superlative, and until we have learned this - we have not learned to be Christians.”

“Whichever way providence blew, Paul had such heavenly skill and dexterity, that he knew how to steer his course.
… he could be anything that God would have him to be.”

“Paul, in regard of his faith and courage, was like a cedar, he could not be stirred. But for his outward condition, he was like a reed bending every way with the wind of providence. When a prosperous gale blew upon him, he could bend with that, “I know how to be full;” and when a boisterous gust of affliction blew, he could bend in humility with that, “I know how to be hungry.”

A Christian, having cast his anchor in heaven, his heart never sinks.
A gracious spirit - is a contented spirit.”

4.25.2017

A heart of anger can be HEALED!

THIS BOOK!

An excellent resource for all parents, and a worthy read for anyone who struggles with the sin of bitterness, anger, stubbornness, or rebellion.
The root of anger is a seed that is usually planted when we are hurt or wounded and when left unchecked and unresolved it grows quickly into bitterness, which we know is a sin that must be destroyed.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31, 32

I read this a decade ago and found it timely and helpful then, and the lovely woman who is discipling me assigned me to read it again this month. I read the entire book in one day, highlighted everything that jumped out at me, and sent her my responses in four separate e-mails.
Not only do I see my children in the words running across the pages - I see myself. And the image is not attractive.
Praise the Lord for being a God of forgiveness, mercy, and second chances, for I need them all. Every day!

I am including many of the quotes that challenged/convicted me with the hope that someone else who struggles with an angry child or an angry heart (or both) will be encouraged that a) you are not alone and b) there is HOPE - for healing, and for PEACE. In your home, and in your heart.

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

- God will not ask you as a Christian to follow any biblical mandate without providing the grace and ability to carry it out.

- Identify how you may be sinning against your child so you can remove the beam from your own eyes before attempting to remove the splinters from theirs.

- Because the Bible addresses all aspects of communication, the Christian should make it his goal to become proficient in all three areas. Words - non-verbal communication - tone of voice.

- When a man is angry (or experiencing other intense emotions), he is at greater risk of sinning with his words.
Great verses to fight this!
"The heart of the righteous studies how to answer." Proverbs 15:28
"The heart of the wise teaches his mouth and adds learning to his lips." Proverbs 16:23

- The effect of tone of voice is so great that some experts believe it to be up to seven times more powerful in certain situations than the words themselves.

- Changing facial expressions is probably the most difficult aspect of communication to correct.
Verse to inspire the change: "A man's wisdom makes his face to shine and the harshness of his countenance to be changed." Ecclesiastes 8:1

- What is the first rule for disciplining children? You must have more discipline than the child.

- The Gumnazo Principle: Correcting wrong behavior by practicing right behavior, with the right attitude, for the right reason, until the right behavior becomes habitual.

- Confessing one's sin to an offended brother is not simply an option for a Christian, it is a command that you must follow if restoration is to occur.

- Asking for forgiveness is not the same thing as saying, "I'm sorry." Saying "I'm sorry" doesn't accomplish the biblical goal of putting past offenses aside. Nor does it lay the foundation to reestablish a broken trust as effectively as does asking forgiveness.

- When someone forgives, they are committing not to hold it against the person, talk about it with others, or dwell on it themselves.
A Christian is commanded by God to forgive a penitent offender. The offending Christian has the responsibility to earn back the trust that has been lost as a result of his sin. Granting someone forgiveness is not the same thing as declaring someone trustworthy."

- Just as your children must practice biblical communication principles to become proficient in their usage, so you, as a parent, must practice biblical discipline to become a proficient and skillful instructor.

- The only divinely-approved diagnostic manual whereby Christians may accurately judge thoughts and motives is Scripture. Christian parent, you must learn not only how to draw the thoughts and motives out of your child, but also how to diagnose those thoughts and motives; "not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." I Cor 2:13

- The ability to discern thoughts and motives when experiencing intense emotion is an essential skill for the Christian who intends to pursue holiness. Recognizing thoughts and imaginations of the heart is a prerequisite of bringing them "captive to the obedience of Christ."

- The best evidence that a Christian desires (loves) something more than he desires (loves) God, is his willingness to sin against God, either in order to acquire that desire or because he cannot acquire it.
One of the most common sins that demonstrates the presence of inordinate desire is anger.

- Christ never answered a fool with a foolish response. He never fought folly with folly. In communicating with fools, He never employed communication forms that violated Scripture. Although He did respond to foolishness, He did not respond in kind. In other words, He did not allow the fool with whom He was talking to drag Him down to His level by playing the same sinful communication games as His opponent.
What He did do when responding to foolish verbiage was to show the fool his own foolishness.
"Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, lest he be wise in his own eyes." Proverbs 26:4

RESPONDING biblically to sin in others
➵ Examine your motives.
Your motives for responding to your child's manipulation should be righteous.
➵ Examine your life.
You should examine your own life for any sinful words, actions, and attitudes (especially manifestations of the same basic tendencies of disrespect and manipulation).
➵ Maintain a spirit of gentleness.
It is possible for righteous anger and sinful anger to reside in your heart at the same time. Before you open your mouth to reprove your manipulating child, you had better be sure that any anger you may feel in your heart is due to his sin against God rather than his sin against you. And, if you are certain you can speak out of such righteous anger, you had better take heed that such anger does not express itself in sinful forms of communication.
Such as harshness, sarcasm, raising your voice, criticism etc.
➵ Choose the right words.
You must speak the truth in love.
You must select words that communicate grace and that will meet the needs of your child, for the purpose of edifying him.
As a parent, you must "let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:6

4.24.2017

It's FOREVER. So I need to KNOW it!


I bought pink tulips today. One of my favorite flowers.
Every time I receive or purchase fresh flowers I place them near my Bible. I'm not sure why - it just seems like they belong there. Perhaps it is the contrast between the temporary and the eternal that affects me so deeply. As Scripture says, "The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever." Isaiah 40:8
Maybe the Lord needs me to have a visual of this profound truth continually before my eyes because I would not remember it on my own.

What I do know is that He has put an intense desire on my heart to memorize Psalm 119.
I love this Psalm. It is practical, applicable, and encouraging. I draw from it often, and when I was reading it today I was overwhelmed with a desire to KNOW it.
Not just the verses that refresh my heart, but the verses that address my sin and remind me that I am accountable to a holy God for my thoughts, words, and actions. 
"I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You." Psalm 119:11

I pulled these specific verses from the chapter because they speak of ACTION.
They speak of things I want in my spiritual life.
They speak of who I want to be as a believer - and - as a child of God.

Thank You, Lord, for the precious beauty of Your Word. Make me desire it more ... so much so that I cannot lay my head on my pillow at night until I have spent focused, intentional time turning its pages. I don't know enough, I don't understand enough, and I don't obey enough. Open my eyes, Lord! Incline and enlarge my heart to Your law. Give me understanding, keep my steps sure, let Your law help me, and make my heart blameless. I love You and I need You, Lord, and I can find You here ... in the pages of Your Word. Teach me how to hide it in my heart - and even more - to live it, faithfully, day by day.

Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of Your law.

I will run in the way of Your commandments
when You enlarge my heart!

Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!

Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn Your commandments.

May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!

Keep steady my steps according to Your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;
And let Your judgments help me.

Psalm 119


Would anyone like to join me?

Happy Birthday, Isaiah!


Eight years!
Eight years of energy, enthusiasm, joy, and craziness since the moment you entered our family.
You are an absolute delight, Isaiah Daniel!
You make everyone laugh, you rejoice with others, you willingly engage in activities, and you are quick to offer help when someone needs it.

One of my favorite things about you is your ability to ENJOY life. Even when you are alone.
Creating new worlds with Lego's, pretending you are fishing from a table in the backyard, reading Calvin and Hobbes, playing tackle football (with yourself), pretending you are an explorer digging for fossils, or just sitting quietly while listening to a story ... you always find something to do - something that brings you joy. And I pray you never lose that ability or desire. It will serve you well.

I love that you love God, the Bible, and church.
You listen intently to the creative lessons in Sunday school, remember all of the details, and you are the first one to share them with us (with excitement!) while we drive home.
You memorize God's Word, and I pray you will always maintain this discipline as it will keep you walking in obedience and faithfulness and you grow in your faith. "I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You." Psalm 119:11
Feed your love for God, His Word, and the church, Isaiah.
Learn how to pray. And pray often.
Love the Lord with enthusiasm, and never apologize for doing so.

Dad and I have no greater desire than to see you mature in your faith, seeking after God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength so you might become a man who loves Him with all of your heart and serves Him all of your days.

We love you, Isaiah Daniel, and we are thankful the Lord chose to create you, and purposely place you into our family so we can enjoy you every day.

Happy Birthday!

4.23.2017

Quote. We have an excellent Shepherd!

"He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters." Psalm 23:2

"He makes me lie down in green pastures." That is, He supplies the needs of our souls.
He . . .
gives us the food of the Word of God,
strengthens us with His grace, and
makes us to find our rest in Him.

"He leads me beside the still waters." 
That is, He . . .
refreshes us when we are weary,
revives our hearts by His promises,
cheers us by His presence,
gives us His Holy Spirit, and
enables us to rejoice in His salvation.

Amidst all our trials and troubles - He comforts us and gives us fresh hope.

Some may say, "Why should I have trouble at all? Why does the good Shepherd send me anything besides comfort and pleasure? Why am I poor or sad or sick?"

The sheep do not choose their own pasture - the shepherd chooses for them. In the same way, the disciple does not choose his own lot in life - it is appointed for him. His Shepherd knows best what is good for him. The best is not always what is the most pleasant at the moment - but what is most profitable in the end.

Our Shepherd sometimes leads us through what seem to us dry and stony places - but they lead to the Heavenly pastures! And even along the way, He feeds us and comforts us with all a shepherd's care. Never is our Shepherd nearer to us, than when we are in need or danger.

"My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish - ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:27-28

- Francis Bourdillon, "Bedside Readings" 1864

4.21.2017

A beautiful family day at the park!

Today we spent a few hours at a delightful park. Perfect weather, lovely views, greenery and luscious trees surrounding us on every side, delicious fruit and snacks, and our family - together.
It was a wonderful way to spend the day!



A new favorite game in the Eastman home!



What would a day at the park be without some touch football?


THIS is exactly why we requested a cast for Isaiah.
We turn around for two seconds, and the boy is in a tree!


This photo sums up my life with my children!


I am no photographer, but when I discover fun, beautiful, interesting places, I want to take pictures!
We were not prepared for a photo shoot today by any means, but my children (somewhat) graciously agreed to let me try out different places and poses since we were in such an attractive setting.
I would definitely go back for a real photo shoot one day!







4.20.2017

A morning on the Homestead!


Today we enjoyed the Old Joe Homestead Tour at Riley's Farm.
Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie and I are just about to finish the final book in the Little House on the Prairie series, so a living history event was the perfect way to end our time with the Ingall's family.

The weather was gorgeous and our adventure was even better because Dennis was able to join us!
We enjoyed the tour, the kids had a blast, and we drove home with one of their famous 5-pound homemade apple pies to share with the older boys. 

It was a wonderful day!




Animals are a crucial part of homestead life. They must be tended to and cared for often.


A family in the 1880's used an average of 100 candles each year.
There were no stores in which to buy them, so they were made by hand. A pretty simple task!


Time to check the orchards to make sure the trees are healthy and strong!



CHORES!
This was one of their favorite parts!
Washing clothes by hand, sweeping the cabin and making the beds, washing dishes, churning milk into butter, and organizing the Rag Bag.


Homesteaders had to grow their own food, so gardening and planting were important skills to learn.
Today the kids had to pull weeds from a plowed portion of land and then plant squash seeds.



After a hard day of work, it's time to PLAY!

4.19.2017

This and that - Easter Break!

Our break has been wonderful thus far!
Friday we kicked it off with a family day at the beach. Such fun!
We spent Saturday at home working and resting.
Sunday we celebrated the Risen Savior with our church family, worshipping, rejoicing, and hearing the Word of God preached with passion in an outdoor service followed by a wonderful time with our extended family in the afternoon and evening.

It is quite a luxury not having any mandatory commitments on the calendar for ten days in a row!
Four more days to go!

🌊 🌴 🐠 🌊 🏄 🌊 🐋 🌴 🌊 🐬
Dennis, Micah, Luke, and Caleb enjoyed a day of surfing on Monday.
Gorgeous weather + friends + waves = SUCCESS!
(no one took photos, so I have none to share)


Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie and I chose to spend our Monday with the Guskes!


Tuesday had a different kind of excitement. Isaiah got a cast for his arm.
He broke his wrist last week climbing into our avocado tree, and the Urgent Care doc gave him a brace until we could see an Ortho doc who would decide if a real cast was necessary.
We knew a cast was necessary because we have met Isaiah! The boy never stops moving unless he is asleep, and his movements are extreme.
We met the Ortho doc, a jovial, light-hearted man, and after hearing the story of the injury he looked at me and said, "If he is a chess playing, classical music listening, sits and reads books all day kind of kid, the brace will be sufficient. IS he that kind of kid?"
We both looked at Isaiah who shook his head from side to side with a grin, at which time the doc said, "Pick a color for your cast, dude!" HA!
An hour later he was devouring a large cup of frozen yogurt, asking dozens of questions, and not five minutes after we returned home he was playing football in the back yard complete with dive rolls on the grass. BOYS BOYS BOYS!


We salvaged our Tuesday with a Family Night.
Nothing like good food and silly games to end the day!
(The object of this game was to spit tiny plastic golf balls into the bucket. Yep. I said SPIT.
This was followed by Round Two which consisted of spitting the golfballs into a MOVING bucket.)
I bet you wish you could join us for these nights, don't you? hehehehe

Easter Break Field Trip!

Our adventure for today was a visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A.
Micah and Luke toured the museum when they were little and loved every minute of it, so we thought Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie would enjoy it too. And they did!
Caleb chose to join us so he could salivate over the fancy million dollar cars. He reported details about some of the cars that took me by surprise. I am not sure when he learned so much, but he knows quite a bit!
We all agreed it was a Thumbs Up adventure! 






One of the highlights of the day ... Racing Simulators!
Isaiah and Ellie were too little to make the cut so they had to be content with an Xbox racing game, but Dennis, Caleb, and Josiah were thrilled to "drive" hundreds of miles an hour on racetracks around the world. They crashed as often as they made the turns, but they had fun doing so!



Dennis watched the Speed Racer cartoon every weekend when he was a kid (and can still sing the theme song on request) so he was happy to see a replica of the "coolest car ever" in the museum. 


If someone had offered, "Choose any car in the museum, and it is yours, Mrs. Eastman," I would have driven off in this beauty!
I have always been drawn to long, sleek, classy cars. Gorgeous!

4.14.2017

Family Day! At the BEACH!






This is the look of a little boy longing to be in the sea, yet held back by the little black brace on his arm. He has a broken wrist. He was attempting to climb into the avocado tree in our backyard - and missed. He cried for all of two minutes, rested for three, and then ran back outside to play. 
"He must be fine!" we thought.
Two days later he said, "Mom, my wrist hurts." Sure enough, it was swollen, so off to Urgent Care we went! Two hours and three x-rays later the diagnosis was confirmed: a buckle break.
The Dr. looked at me and asked, "Is he a pretty mellow kid, or is he active?" Even Josiah laughed out loud at that question!
"He does not sit still for more than six minutes at a time. Why do you ask?"
"Well, mellow means the brace will be sufficient. Active means he will probably need a real cast to keep his arm stable."
 Chances are pretty good that Isaiah will be sporting a plaster cast by the end of next week considering he picked up a football 34 seconds after we returned from Urgent Care, tossed it around with both hands and asked Dennis, "Hey, dad! Can we play catch?"
BOYS!


A game of Steal the Bacon and Pickle!