8.31.2017

Happy Birthday, Luke!


16 years of life have been yours to enjoy, and you have made the most of each one!
From the time you were a toddler you have been full of energy, enthusiasm, adventure,
curiosity, creativity, intelligence, and fun. 
Your add spice to the serious Eastmans and enhance the joy of the light-hearted Eastmans
- just by being YOU. And we love it!

You have a sharp mind that seeks logic and truth, and you are intentional about your actions and words. You stand firm in your convictions and are unmoved when pushed by opposing views. You read God's Word faithfully, seek more knowledge and understanding about His Word, and desire to be a man of character and conviction. You are building a firm foundation under your feet, but son, you cannot assume it will stay that way. Damage - and neglect - will allow fissures to destroy the foundation. You must give constant attention and care to what you have been so careful to build so that no matter how hard it is shaken, it will not collapse.

I love your tenacity.
I love your strength.
I love your loyalty and commitment to our family.
I love you!

You are a natural leader, Luke Samuel Eastman, and it will be exciting to observe the ways in which the Lord uses you for His Kingdom and in the lives of His people.
You have many plans for your life, and this is a good thing for they are a wise way to
"begin with the end in mind."
I encourage you, however, to hold your plans loosely, for it is the Lord who directs our steps.
He may take every single one and toss them to the side in order to steer you in the direction HE wants you to go. Be a man who is confident and grounded, and be a flexible man, always willing to say, "Yes, Lord!" when He commands you to go. To do. To change course.
As long as He is leading and you are following - you will always be walking in His will.

I love you, Luke Samuel, and I am grateful beyond measure that God chose you for my son.
Happy 16th Birthday!

8.30.2017

My daughter said I am lazy.

She wanted something.
Now.
But I was busy.
I asked her to wait, or to take care of it herself.
She rolled her eyes.
She asked again.
My response was a firm, "No. You need to wait. Patiently."
She saw my laptop balanced on my knees, which in her mind translates, "Mom is playing on the computer."
She looked at the other adult in the room and declared, with a rude tone, "My mom is lazy!"
I said nothing. But I did look her straight in the eye, one brow raised.
Her gaze could not keep up with the intensity of my own.
She dropped her eyes, mumbled something, and walked away.

I continued working. Not playing. I was preparing a devotion for the bridal shower of one of my girls. The topic? GRACE. The free and unmerited favor of God.
The Lord protected me from sin in that moment.
No pride.
No injury.
My daughter was speaking with the mind of a child. She saw one piece of the puzzle, one piece, and based all of her assumptions and judgments upon it. She was wrong in her accusation, and it was based on selfishness. She wanted something, right now, and therefore decided that whatever I was doing had no value because it was not important to her.
She is not alone.
Selfishness is a sin committed by seven-year-olds and 97-year-olds.
And laziness fits comfortably under the umbrella of selfishness, doesn't it?

la·zy
adjective
unwilling to work or use energy
synonyms: idle, indolent, slothful, work-shy, shiftless, inactive, underactive, sluggish, lethargic
characterized by lack of effort or activity
showing a lack of effort or care

"I don't feel like going."
"I am not in the mood."
"I don't want to clean the house."
"I don't want to create lesson plans."
"I'm tired. I don't want to go to the event."
Every sentence begins with self. How I feel, what I do or do not want to do. No thought of anyone else or how someone else will be affected by my lack of effort or care.

I was not being lazy when my daughter accused me of being so, but I have been lazy, and I fear I will be again. It is not a character quality I wish to possess, nor one I want to model for my children. I am married to a man who loathes the word, let alone the attribute, and I am thankful for this because he pushes me to "do" when I would rather not, and he pushes our children the same way. One of Dennis' greatest qualities is his incredibly strong work ethic. He works hard, even on tasks that shine an uncomfortable light on his weak points. Whether accomplished quickly or through unbearable hours of plodding, he stays the course and labors with purpose. And our children witness this tenacity every single day.

While pondering Ellie's accusation over several days (for every accusation should be considered in case there is a nugget of truth within it that must be addressed), this quote came across my path.
Laziness is not an affirmity, it's a sin.
It needs to be dealt with ruthlessly, immediately and consistently.
- Alistair Begg
Whoa!
Laziness is a sin, make no mistake, so Scripture must be sought to understand what laziness is, what God says about it, and how it must be remedied. And boy, oh boy, after a quick word-study it is clear that the Lord does not favor laziness! Who wants to be likened to a slug or a sloth? Yikes.

- Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys. Proverbs 18:9
- A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4
- Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger. Proverbs 19:15
- In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:2
- Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him. Proverbs 10:26
- He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. Proverbs 10:5
- Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks. Ecclesiastes 10:18

These are the things we need to "put off" according to Scripture. Slack, slothfulness, idleness, words without action, sluggardness, shame, and indolence. A very unattractive list, to be sure! So what do we replace it with? What do we "put on?" Diligence, industriousness, perseverance, productivity.

When I would rather sleep than serve, I pray the Lord will recall these verses to mind, and convict me to obey so I can turn from my laziness and get busy doing the work He calls me to do.
Thank You, Lord, for showing us the ugliness of laziness as well as the blessing of diligence in Your Word. Make me a woman who "watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness," for I cannot do it without You!

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men ... Colossians 3:23

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; Ecc 9:10

Do you see a man skillful in his work?
He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Prov 22:29

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

8.29.2017

Time for some personal investigation.

Our COMMITTED group is studying I and II Thessalonians - and loving it!
The books are filled with fantastic applications for daily living, encouragement to honor God in everything we do, a challenge to think about the Lord's return and rejoice in it, charges about how to treat one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and a reminder that we must know God's Word, protect God's Word, and stand firm in the faith in days of adversity.
It is a most excellent study, and I am thoroughly enjoying our discussions and shared convictions as we walk through each chapter together, verse by verse.

While preparing the questions for our next study, I was struck by how personal I Thessalonians 5 is in terms of application. Changing the commands into questions creates an investigation.
"Be at peace among yourselves." ---> Are you at peace with the body of Christ?
"Comfort the fainthearted." ---> Do you comfort those who are weak and hurting?
"Rejoice always" and "in everything give thanks." ---> Do you rejoice all the time?
Wow.
This is going to be a lesson I may walk away from with a slight limp!
As our dear brother A. W. Tozer says, "An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil
is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly."
Lord, may it be so, for once you show me what is wrong, You will also provide the remedy!

May we be convicted and encouraged together!

I Thessalonians 5
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
◆ What are your overall thoughts/reactions when you read the passage above?

◆ How can you be watchful and sober? (v. 6)
◆ Why do you think Paul specifically mentions the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of hope? (as opposed to the entire suit of the armor of faith described in Ephesians 6) (v. 8)
◆ Do you wear the HOPE of salvation? Do you think/talk about the coming of the Lord?

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

◆ How do you esteem your brothers and sisters in Christ who labor as leaders in the body of Christ?
◆ Do you encourage them consistently?
If not, how can you remedy this in order to be obedient to this command?

◆ Are you at peace with the body of Christ?
Is there anyone with whom you need to "make peace?"

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are idle and disruptive, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always seek to do what is good to one another.

◆ Do you warn the idle and disruptive? What would that look like biblically?
◆ Do you comfort, encourage, and support weak and weary brothers/sisters?
◆ Are you patient?

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

◆ Are you always rejoicing?
◆ Is your prayer life consistent?
◆ Do you give thanks regularly?
Note verse 18 ... these things are God's WILL for you. They are not suggestions - they are commands.
How does that influence your thinking about these questions?

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

◆ Do you test all things? (v. 21)
Do you measure everything you see/hear/read against God's Word to know what is real and true so you can "hold fast to what is good," and throw away what is false?

◆ How do you abstain from every form of evil? Are you intentional about doing so?

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 

This is a LOVELY passage!
Read it thoughtfully, and respond.

Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

8.27.2017

A sunny, sandy, splendid Sunday!


We spent the afternoon at a lovely, rocky beach!
It was cold, windy, and cloudy when we arrived, but within a couple of hours, we were treated to this spectacular view of God's gorgeous creation.


And this woman is the reason we traveled south for the day - our annual date with my Aunt Donna.
When Ellie hopped out of the Thunder Bus, Donna looked at her and said, "Wow! You look just like your mom did when she was that age!" I was startled by her comment until I recalled the first memory I have of my aunt - when I was Ellie's age - and realized that she has, in fact, known me for 40 years.
I'm so thankful we have such a long, wonderful history together!
Donna has been a tremendous source of encouragement, support, kindness, and love since I was a little girl. Now, she loves Dennis and my children the same way. And I am thankful.



This is what happens when you are the smallest brother.
You're minding your own business, strolling down the beach, and then BAM!
You find yourself swooped into the air and turned upside down by your six-foot brother for no other reason than "he felt like doing it." (and Isaiah LOVES it!)



Ellie was determined to run and jump onto Luke's back for a piggyback ride.
She tried over and over and over again - with zero help from Luke. Finally, I asked him to "give her a break," so he bent down, she took one more flying leap and SUCCESS!
She was quite pleased with herself.




I love this photo of Josiah.
He was in a thoughtful, solitary mood this afternoon, so he spent time climbing rocks and looking out at the water by himself. What better way to enjoy quiet moments alone than surrounded by sky, sea, and sand.

8.26.2017

A collection of (excellent) QUOTES.

The things that we love tell us what we are.
- Thomas Aquinas

A jealous God will not be content with a divided heart;
He must be loved first and best. 
- Charles Spurgeon

We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God.
He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.
- A .W. Tozer

Be an expert on the Word of God
and you will always know what to say to the culture.
- John MacArthur

Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners
who could not lift a finger to save themselves.
- J. I. Packer

In Him you have redemption. Out of Him, you are in bondage.
- Charles Spurgeon

While it looks like things are out of control,
behind the scenes there is a God who hasn't surrendered His authority.
- A. W. Tozer

Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads.
- Charles Spurgeon

God never uses anyone greatly until He tests them deeply.
- A. W. Tozer

Faith is being honest with ourselves about God.
Repentance is being honest with God about ourselves.
- Joe Holland

An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil
is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly.
- A.W. Tozer

8.25.2017

Happy Birthday, Josiah!



Josiah, you are ...

thoughtful
compassionate
willing to serve
tender-hearted
sensitive
affectionate
eager to please
and kind.

These are wonderful qualities that can be used to do great things for the Kingdom of God.
It is the Lord's kindness that leads us to repentance.
Jesus did not come to earth to be served - He came to serve.
Jesus had compassion for people because they were helpless, like sheep without a Shepherd.
And if you are to look like Him, reflecting His light in a dark world, you must do what He did.
With an attitude of love.

But like all strengths, they also have a weak side, so ask the Lord to protect you from their influence.
Do not allow your sensitivity to make you insecure.
Do not let your eagerness to please make you perform for the praises of men.
Do not put expectations on others to meet your need for affection and acceptance.

Josiah Timothy Eastman, you are the son of a KING!
A heavenly King who spoke the world into being.
A King who raises the dead, makes the lame walk, and makes the blind see.
A King who holds the oceans in the palm of His hand and uses the earth as a footstool.
He is your King.
Your Father.
Your God.
Your identity, your worth, your everything ... is in Him.

So, hold your head HIGH.
Square your shoulders.
And march forward with confidence knowing that everything you are and everything you have
is because an omniscient and omnipotent God chose to create you in the secret places of the earth,
in His image, and for His purpose.

We love you, Josiah, and we are thankful the Lord chose to place you in our family.
You are an Eastman, which means you have access to all the rights and privileges thereof.
But even better - you are an heir to the Throne of Grace!
Knowing who you are IN CHRIST is the greatest lesson you will ever learn.
So commit to learning it - and living it - well.

Happy Birthday 10th birthday, Josiah!

8.24.2017

End of Summer FAMILY NIGHT!


A ferry ride to the island.
It was a lovely evening and the sky was beautiful.
A delightful way to spend time together - out in God's gorgeous creation!







 Time for dessert!
What better option than walking to BJ's Pizza for PIZOOKIES!
It was the first one ever consumed by Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie.
The completely empty dish was a sure sign that they liked it!


We ordered four Pizookies for Dennis and the kids to share. 
Aaaand all four were devoured in less than SEVEN MINUTES!
Seriously.
I'm not sure the waitress ever witnessed a family rotate through the restaurant at such a pace!


A cool memorial that was probably illegal to stand on even though there wasn't a "keep off sign." 
The kids climbed up, I leaned back into my photo-taking Matrix pose and got the shot.
I love the palm trees lining the background.


 An impromptu game of 3 on 3 touch/tackle/smack/hip-check football on the greens at Balboa Island.

Tennis shoes - and the Christian faith.

I LOVE new tennis shoes!
Clean, bright, unfaded, ready-to-walk-a-thousand-miles shoes!
I like to look at them, keep them in the box so they "stay clean," and walk around the house to enjoy the squishiness of the new soles.
Of course, I know the newness will not last. The first splash of mud, the first step in grease, wear and tear ... all of them will happen soon enough and then my fun, new, perfect shoes will become plain, old, everyday shoes.
If I was independently wealthy I would have a dozen pair lined up in my closet and rotate them each month. Since I am not independently wealthy, and only have two feet to cover at a time, however, I only own one pair. I wear them down to the thread, eagerly waiting for the day when I can choose brand-new shoes.
And it is a process.
I used to wear a size 11.
Now, I am sporting a size 12. Yep. You read that right. A TWELVE. (see photo for proof!)
When you are on the tail end of the sizing chart your options are limited. My size 8-1/2 friends can pick up shoes at any discount store on the planet. Nice, name-brand, drastically discounted shoes by the dozens. Me? The size "10 and up" rack looks like someone emptied a circus trunk on the shelves! Who wears neon green, patent leather sneakers, I ask you? Who?! (I need to start taking photos of the shoes I find in these places or no one will believe me.)
Because of my elongated foot, my best option is to order five or six pairs of shoes online (shipped to and from for free), try them all on, select the one that fits best, and return the rest.
For me, the excitement of shopping for shoes has been tempered, but the thrill of owning a new pair of shoes will never lose its luster!


The other day, while staring at my new purple beauties (because, of course, I cannot actually WEAR them the first day I get them ... I just look at them), it struck me that everything I experience in my search-for-shoes-that-fit-a-size-12-foot saga is much like the Christian life.

The day the Lord saves us we are on FIRE!
We are excited! Full of enthusiasm! We want to tell the world about this new Jesus we have met!
Everyone notices that something is different about us. We seem joyful, exuberant, and ready to face the world.
We love reading the Word because everything seems ALIVE. Exciting. FRESH.
We count the hours until it is time for church.
We are excited to be with other believers.
There are not enough sermons, podcasts, articles, blogs, or devotionals to satisfy us.
We keep talking about our salvation to anyone who will listen.
We feel close to God and are completely confident in His love for us.

And then someone close to us dies.
A friend betrays us.
We lose our job.
We miscarry.
Our child is molested.
We get cancer.
Our husband wants someone other than us.
Our adult children walk away from the faith.
We feel completely alone.

And our enthusiasm for Christ, like a brand-new pair of tennis shoes, begins to fade.

But just as we endure with dirty, faded tennis shoes, walking and running, chasing children, pulling weeds, running errands, taking trash cans to the curb and climbing jungle gyms at the park until it is time to replace them with brightly-colored NEW shoes ...
we must also endure the trials and sorrows and difficulties of life while loving our spouses, serving our families, worshiping with the body, respecting authority, working with integrity, and giving thanks in every circumstance until the Lord chooses to replace the dark shadows with a NEW joy and a BRIGHT hope.

We may not be cloaked with the passion of our newly-found faith every minute of the day as we run the marathon of the Christian life, but the thrill of knowing we belong to an amazing, loving, gracious, and merciful God should never, ever lose its luster!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:3-9

8.22.2017

Studying Scripture provides GREAT lessons for life!

My friend Kristie and I continue our study of the book of Job - and we are loving it! Such a rich book filled with the truth of God's sovereignty.
Last week we read several chapters, and while there were only three small sections that caught my attention, they caught ALL of my attention.
I hope someone else will be challenged and encouraged as well!

(Zophar speaking to Job about "the way of the evil man.")
In his self-sufficiency he will be in distress;
Every hand of misery will come against him. Job 20:22

This verse hit me between the eyes!
I constantly have to battle NOT to do things of my own will, and in my own strength and then say, “Please bless it, Lord!”
Instead, I must ask, “Where are YOU working, Lord? Draw me into YOUR work!”
I love the way the Lord pairs self-sufficiency with distress because it is pretty darn accurate!
Striving exhausts us.
Resting in the strength of the Father? A refreshing delight!
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
“Even today my complaint is bitter; My hand is listless because of my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, That I might come to His seat!
I would present my case before Him, And fill my mouth with arguments.
I would know the words which He would answer me, And understand what He would say to me.
Would He contend with me in His great power? No! But He would take note of me.
There the upright could reason with Him, And I would be delivered forever from my Judge. 
Job 23:1-7

I love this! Job’s miseries have not come to an end, yet once again he looks UP and remembers who his God is. He honors the Lord’s goodness and His perfect character as he proclaims that God is a fair judge who listens to His children.
“He would take note of me.”
This reminds me of the story of Zaccheus. Jesus sees him (in the tree) - He knows him (calls his name) - He wants him (let’s have dinner together).
Job understood that God is our Shepherd and He calls us by name!

When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth
More than my necessary food. Job 23:9-12

Another monologue of PRAISE!
And in it, Job reminds those around him that he is a faithful servant of the Lord.
“My foot held fast to His steps.”
“I have kept His way and not turned aside.”
The friends may be blind to Job’s faithful obedience and love of the Lord, but Job is not! He knows what his relationship with God looks like, and he stands securely in that knowledge.
And we have chapter one to remind us of this truth!
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. Job 1:1





Studying the Word of God with a sister in Christ is a privilege and a sweet joy.
If you have never studied Scripture in this way, I highly recommend it!
Sharing the truths, convictions, and insights of the Bible is a precious thing when you do so -
with a friend.

8.21.2017

This and that.

Magnificent MONDAY!
A lofty description, I know, but it sounds good!
I love the beginning of a new week. Plans on paper, but a God who directs the details, so we have no idea what will actually take place.

Last week was full of wonderful times of fellowship with old friends and new, all provided by a God who loves to give good things to His children. After nine months of semi-isolation and exhaustion due to the pressing educational and emotional needs of our children last August through May, it has been an absolute joy to connect with people once again. We were not created for isolation. We were created for relationship. With the Lord first and with others. There is a reason we are commanded not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves," - we need each other! I made the mistake of neglecting this part of the Christian life. I interacted with humans, of course, but I was not purposeful about spending time with believers who would encourage me, build me up, correct me, or simply enjoy being with me. I just kept existing, hoping I could get through another day. A mistake I will not make again this year. My school calendar has dates slated for "Intentional Fellowship" and, Lord willing, I will be able to enjoy every single one of them!

How thankful Dennis and I are that the Lord has blessed our sons with good friends.
This group here -
The Fearless/Fabulous/Fantastic Five connected the first few months of junior high and never let go.
They talk, they laugh, they roast each other, hang out, attend every youth group event, celebrate birthdays and milestones together, surf, camp, make videos ... and have a GREAT time doing all of it.
But the thing I love best about this group of guys is that when it matters, when it really, truly matters - they are there for each other.
They may drift apart as the college years pull them in different directions, but I pray the Lord will keep their connection strong so they can lean on each other - for life.

~~~ Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie, and I are reading the biography of George Müller together. This is my fourth study of this extraordinary man of faith, yet it feels like I am reading about him for the first time! Halfway through the book, I sent a text to my friend Kelsi asking, "Do you want to start an orphanage together?" The second I lifted my finger off of the "send" button she responded, "YES!" with at least thirty smiling emojis trailing behind. We spent fifteen minutes text-dreaming about our orphanage ... admin roles, age and stage of children we would start with, who would fit which roles ... it was lovely. I walked away thinking (and grinning), "I am only 45, Lord! I have PLENTY of years left to pursue this dream! Let me know what YOU think about it!"
It's nice to dream - isn't it?

What a treat it was to see THIS woman last week!
Michelle was one of the original COMMITTED members, and we have walked through a lot of life together.
I am thankful her parents trusted me with her heart when she was a young woman because the Lord has used our years together to create a friendship that is sweet and mutually desirable.
I may be almost twenty years her senior, but when we are together you would never guess it! Just two women equally investing in and enjoying one another - and thankful the Lord drew us together "for such a time as this."

~~~ Last week, while shopping at a produce store, one of my children (who shall remain nameless) stole a piece of candy from the bulk-item bins. I was not aware of the crime until one of my other children happily reported, "So-and-so STOLE, Mom!" I looked back to find said child standing in the aisle with a face as red as a tomato, so I knew he had, in fact, stolen from the store. We spent a few minutes hammering out the details and the conversation ended with me saying, "You will stand in line, look the cashier in the eye, and confess your crime. Then, you will accept whatever punishment he hands down. Understood?" Large eyes pleading back at me, "Yes, Mom."
We get in line, the child confesses, and the store clerk (who may or may not have reached his 21st birthday) looks down and asks, "You only took ONE jelly bean?"
"Yes."
"Seriously? Just one?"
(I am holding my tongue so as not to give him a lecture that "stealing is stealing" whether it is one bean or a Mercedes Benz because I can sense what is coming.)
"Yes. Just one."
"Well, I take a piece of candy just about every time I walk through the candy section, so it's okay."
It's OKAY?!? Come on! You just condoned the crime! <insert agitated eye-roll here>
How about, "I know it's tempting, but you are still stealing, so while I am going to show you grace this time, please don't do it again, okay?"
The child left the store relieved and lectured by me (who had MUCH more to say than "It's okay."), and I made a mental note. Note to self: Next time one of our children steals, ask for a manager or someone over the age of 40 to listen to the confession of a crime!

We are grateful to Dennis' sister, Denise, and her husband Mark, for generously giving Josiah, Isaiah,
and Ellie with brand-new iPads! After sending her a brief update on our family she asked for further details, and through that conversation learned that our kids would benefit greatly from updated technology to help them in their educational pursuits. Last year was a tremendous struggle for all of our dyslexic children, and after doing more research I discovered the plethora of options available to aid them in their learning through the use of iPads. A week later, Denise sent us an e-mail telling us that she and Mark would like to gift our children with the devices - and we were blown away! This is a game-changer for our upcoming school year!
Thank you, Mark and Denise. There is no way our children would be enjoying these without you!

~~~ I will leave you with this fantastic quote to think about as you dive into your week.
"As an ordinary Christian, go deep in the Word and prayer, 
and then go boldly into your sphere of influence."
- Steffen Mueller

8.16.2017

Engage and Disengage so you can do MORE!

Our pastor has preached dozens of sermons that have been added to my "favorites list," and this one hovers near the top. The Lord prompted him to share these biblical truths with us three years ago, and I have drawn on his words and his challenges countless times since then. In fact, one of my new life mantras is, "Even Jesus took naps!" <grin>
The Lord has given me the privilege of speaking to a Mom's group this evening, and this particular sermon is the backdrop for our discussion. I cannot wait to see what He does with us!

Below are my notes from Pastor's sermon. I hope you find them encouraging and helpful!

At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come.” And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. Mark 1: 32-39

Jesus was busy, but not sinfully busy.
His pattern was to work - and withdraw.

➤ ➤ Jesus Paused
He had been working all day, teaching, preaching, healing, and performing miracles.
The following morning He slips into the wilderness ALONE - away from the noise and needs of the crowd. "Be still ..."

When life is busy and ministry is thriving – we need to REST!

Jesus engaged in life – preaching and healing – but He knew that time with the Father had to be FIRST – even when He knew there were needs upon needs: sick people, hurting people, dying people. He left them to commune with the Father!

Engage – disengage – engage – disengage. The rhythm of Jesus.
daily 
weekly 
monthly 
yearly 

Being still consistently teaches us to to be receptive to His voice, for He is ALWAYS speaking! 

- Retreats affirm the priority of the Spiritual.
- Retreats slow.us.down – allowing our souls to catch up with our bodies.
Time with God cannot be rushed.
It is like a three-course meal, relaxed and refreshing.

When we do not slow down it is an issue of PRIDE.
We think we are indispensable. “If I don’t do/say/plan "xyz" then it will all fall apart.” 
Shows a lack of faith. If YOU are not the one "doing" success will not happen.
The focus is on SELF – and therefore, sin.

Is God not big enough to handle things in your time of rest?!? (A humbling question!)

- Retreat affirms God’s help in life’s challenges.
Rest/reflect/recharge (See story of Elijah in the wilderness - I Kings 19. He was about to give up but the Lord starts him up again! A WONDERFUL example of God's care for our personal refreshment in a time of weariness.)

➤ ➤ Jesus Prayed 
His significant moments are marked by prayer. (His baptism, Gethsemane, His crucifixion)
There is a NEED to pray.
Jesus IS God. And yet – He understood the importance and need to spend time with the Father in prayer.
He lived as a man – and men need strength, patience, long suffering, wisdom, and rest. 
Jesus was in total dependence on the Father. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent me. John 6:38

Understanding our weakness makes us see how desperately we need to seek the Lord in prayer. 
When we know how weak we are we will RUN to the throne seeking wisdom and strength.
Amen, Amen, AMEN!

➤➤ Jesus Prioritized
“Everyone is looking for you,” the disciples declared. (for healing and deliverance from demons)
But that was NOT why Jesus came to earth. He came to preach the Word.
He responds: Yep, I know. Let’s move on so I can preach! (Mark 1:38, Michelle's adapted version)

Jesus had to keep His focus – especially once His popularity rose.
Doing the will of the Father was that focus.

Healing/casting out demons were all GOOD things to do, but they weren't the BEST of the good.
Eternal salvation is much better than present healing. (Wow. That's perspective!)

✶✶✶ Jesus DID NOT do it all. ✶✶✶ Neither should we! 

There will always be needs – even dire needs – but that does not mean you can, or should, respond to every one.

Love God and love others by saying NO.
You cannot compromise your time with Him or your time of quiet to be refreshed by Him.

FOCUS comes when we take the time to step away and see the big picture.
-push away the non-essentials 
-pull the important together 
-prioritize what is most important, to the least important
And then, re-engage.

And do it again.
And again.
And again.

We can do more when we do LESS.

8.14.2017

A night of unified worship - and JOY!


Last night 600+ people came together to enjoy the God-given talents of these men.
They performed.
They encouraged us with the truth of God's Word.
They shared the stories behind their songs.
They made us laugh.
They prayed.
And best of all - they drew us into a time of beautiful worship of our Savior and King.

Many of their songs minister to me, but the Psalms I and Psalms II albums are especially dear.
Music written directly from the pages of Scripture is always a sweet comfort for a weary and hurting heart and a reminder that God's promises are beautiful and true.

This is one of my favorite songs by far, and the guys highlighted it last night.
May it encourage your heart as you begin a new week, remembering that with the Lord as Your Savior,
you have all you need.

"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



The night was even better because of these people!
Sara was my date. Dinner and a worship concert - a great way to spend an evening with a friend!
And I was pleasantly surprised to see the others!
Bree - the daughter of my dear friend Jill. She sent me a text when she arrived asking, "Are you here? I'm here!" So we met on the patio, talked and laughed, and took photos together.
Tiffany - my sweet sister who married our friend Sam. She sat with me and Sara and made me laugh when she would bounce her shoulders to the beat of the fast songs. 
Peter - Brandon - Tawny - Laura! How fun it was to see them walk into the sanctuary! We know Laura well and love her dearly, Dennis and Brandon have history, so we had the joy of meeting Tawny when they said, "I do!" and Peter is a delightful part of a group of best buds who welcome anyone into their fold - including the Eastmans!

The church was full of believers, brothers and sisters, new acquaintances, and friends.
All of us lifting up our voices in worship and praise to the Lord - together - modeling the beauty of Psalm 133 which says, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity."

8.12.2017

An unexpected day of FUN!

This morning, Dennis returned home from a breakfast date with Luke and declared, "I'm taking Caleb and the littles to a Performance Car and Truck Demonstration at Angel Stadium!"
"Um, okay. Why?"
"Because it's super COOL!"
"Alright then. Have fun!"

They left without having any real idea of what they were going to experience other than a bunch of cars sitting in a parking lot - until they connected with our friend Joe. Joe is a modern-day version of Ferris Bueller. He knows EVERYone. Including the members of one of the driving teams. He met Dennis and the kids at the gate and used his V.I.P. pass to treat them to a day they will not forget!

Joe's pass secured a place for Dennis and the kids in the pit, the ability to sit inside the cars for photo ops, and a bag filled with dozens of stickers, a T-shirt, and autographed posters from the drivers. The boys and Ellie were THRILLED!






As excited as the kids were, Dennis enjoyed another level of enthusiasm when he was invited to be a passenger in the Lamborghini Huracán during the finale of the drifting demonstration.
He could hardly contain his excitement when he showed me the video of his ride and described the awesomeness of the experience. Like a kid in a candy store! Grinning from ear to ear.

If you have a spare $300K+ lying around - go ahead, pick one up! You will love it!


Thank you for your generosity and kindness, Joe!
Dennis and the kids enjoyed a fantastic and fun-filled day because of you!


Most people would leave a 35-pound Drift Truck tire that was ruined during the race sitting on the side of the track. But Dennis Eastman is not 'most people.' As soon as he discovered the tires were free for the taking, he grabbed one and rolled it to our van to bring home.
Why? To use as a piece of workout equipment, of course!


The tire presented a perfect opportunity to shove a small Eastman inside and roll it around the yard,
so they did!


I have a feeling this black circle is going to get much use!
Heaven only knows what these three will think of to do with a giant tire!

8.11.2017

Pain is everywhere. And praise God - so is HE!


Joy is not the absence of suffering
but the presence of God.
- Elisabeth Elliot

There is no shortage of pain and suffering in the lives of those around us.
Every few days we receive news of a trial or tragedy, and there are no words that can erase the pain, change the circumstances, or stop the sorrow.
miscarriages
infertility
crumbling marriages
children living in hospitals
teens battling depression
aging parents
dying loved ones
physical pain and poor health
single mothers struggling to care for their precious children
families working hard to pay the bills
wayward children
depression, anxiety, and fear
BUT GOD ...

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 37:26

Thank You, Lord, for the beauty and truth of this verse!

The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

8.09.2017

Quote.

Many blush to confess their faults, 
who never blushed to commit them.

- William Secker