6.30.2018

One of my FAVORITES!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.29.2018

Micah and Luke - MISSIONS.

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


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


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


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

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

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

6.26.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.24.2018

Man is disappointing - but God is faithful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.23.2018

Micah and Luke - MISSION TRIP!


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

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

6.20.2018

Collecting Coins and Waiting on the Lord!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

6.17.2018

We love this man!


What we love, respect, and appreciate about our Dad.

Compiled by:
Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie ❤

His commitment.
His wisdom.
His integrity and grit, waking up every morning to work hard to
support a family of eight in a place that is quite expensive to live in. 
His inexhaustible humour.
His ability to lead.
His unrelenting love for me and my siblings.
His love for mom and his commitment to take care of her.
His discipline over his body, physically and spiritually.
He is funny.
He loves the Lord.
He has the talent to make people laugh.
He is understanding.
He is a great teacher.
He is a friend as well as a dad.
He will always look after the people he loves.
Hardworking. 
Persistent in growth. 
Doesn't give up easily. 
Is willing to do the hard thing for the greater good of the family, work, and others. 
Leads our family physically and spiritually. 
Puts family first. 
Is the protector of our home. 
Is easy to like and be around.
He hugs us.
He plays with us.
He teaches us how to play every sport.
He is funny and makes us laugh.
He goes to work so we can have food, a house, and a bed.
He loves us.

Happy Father's Day, Dennis!
You are loved and adored by your children ... because you love and adore them.

6.16.2018

Thankful He is OURS!


This man.

Most people see the lighter, fun side of Dennis.
The surfer.
The comedian.
The man who uses broken tree trunks as weights when camping.
The rock music aficionado.
The "Superfan" of football and all things sports.
The storyteller.

But there is another side ... the man that was captured in this photo.
Focused, intense, thoughtful, purposeful, and driven.

The man who worked three jobs for eighteen years to keep me home with our children.
The man who fought against his ADHD and dyslexia to secure a Ph.D.,
taking one class at a time for seven years so he could live out his dream of training teachers.
The man who spends hours preparing lessons/presentations regardless of who or what he is teaching.
The man who specifically prayed for the Lord to remove him from the "comfortable" and place him where he could grow and better understand the needs of others - and became the Principal of an inner-city school where the Lord changed the direction of his heart and his life.
The man who knows he does not know enough, so he seeks wisdom and counsel from godly men who will speak the truth, even when the truth is hard to hear - and hard to do.
The man who became a student of our children, learning how/when to approach them, and intentionally invests in them, prays for them, writes to them, and engages with them.
A man whom they will one day not only call Father - but Friend.
The man who willingly pours into young men who seek him out, with humility and grace.
The man who speaks up for those who cannot speak for themselves, using his energy, his time, his studies, and his position to advocate on their behalf.
Out of obedience - with JOY - because he knows this is his calling.
The man who has protected, defended, encouraged, supported, loved, and challenged me for 24 years of marriage, never once holding me back from my calling and passion to minister to the brokenhearted. He has hugged, prayed with, delivered flowers to, and listened to the countless women (and couples) the Lord has filtered through our home, and they know his kindness and concern are genuine.
A man whose life mantras are:
Begin with the end in mind.
Win the moment.
Be a trier, not a crier.
Act like what you do matters - because it does.

This is the man I live with.
This is the man Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie call "Dad."
And it is for this man we praise God that He chose Dennis - for us.

Micah's World.


Micah’s world.
A world where he feels secure and confident.
The Lord provided a love of and talent for music in our son,
and it has been his solace and refuge in times of struggle.
Every lyric written, every song composed, and every note played has been used by the Lord
to bring Micah peace - when he needed it most.
And as parents, we are and always will be THANKFUL to the Lord
for providing this outlet and place of safety for our son. ♥

6.14.2018

Delighting in each other.

One of the best things about discipleship is being pushed to discover and understand things about yourself that you would not seek on your own. Especially when the woman leading you toward the discovery has been walking with the Lord longer, can navigate Scripture blindfolded, and has acquired godly wisdom far beyond your years. Strength and comfort are found in her encouragement, and her support propels you to keep going when your discovery leads you to something unappealing that you would prefer to shove back under the sand rather than take home and study.

I always tell my girls, "I will never ask you to do something I am not willing to do myself." Because of this, they enjoy listening to me share about my discipleship adventures with Ginger. Her standards and expectations exceed my own, much to the delight of my girls, who declare, while laughing, "Now you know how WE feel!" They did, however, sit wide-eyed while I reported that after giving me an assignment, Ginger checked in to confirm our monthly date and said, "Make sure to bring your assignment with you. If it is not complete we will need to reschedule." I looked at them grinning and asked, "How would you feel if I wouldn't let you come to COMMITTED if you didn't do the monthly assignments?" They looked horrified, and one of them replied, "I would be kicked out!"

When I relayed this exchange to Ginger the following night at our meeting, she laughed and said, "Well, you did ask for this! And, you are not in the certificate program of discipleship, my friend. You are in the Ph.D. program! I push you a lot harder than I push others because I know you can handle it." I laughed with her and responded, "Just because I can handle it doesn't mean I LIKE it!" She just smiled.

What was the assignment? A study of the importance/necessity/priority of reading God's Word DAILY.
And this verse was at the heart of it.
Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me."
The question: What is revealed about the heart of Jesus here?
He is Present
He is Persistent
He is Purposeful
He Pursues us
He is Personal

I send my assignments via e-mail so she can go over them before we meet. It allows us to dive right into a discussion rather than spend our time reading. For the first time in a year and a half, she sent my notes back to me with this line attached: “You totally missed the point of this assignment. Try again, please. Hint: RELATIONSHIP.”
!!!!!!!!!!! <insert shaking head, rolling eyes, and laughter>

Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me."
What is revealed about the heart of Jesus here?

He is Present - The Lord willingly chooses to be near me, never leaving or forsaking me. He is always present. Always ready/willing/desiring to talk to me and hear from me.
He is Persistent - He chooses to knock. He could kick the door in, float through the door, demand that I open it. But He doesn't. He knocks - over and over again - waiting for me to open it for Him.
He is Purposeful - He comes to me. He calls to me. He asks to be invited in - with the purpose of interacting with me.
He Pursues - "I stand at the door and knock." He CHOOSES to come to me. He is not calling me to Him. He comes to me. Not because He needs me - but because He WANTS me.
He is Personal - Strangers do not come to the door with the desire to connect or relate. They are selling something, wanting something from the person inside. Jesus comes to the door to offer one thing - Himself.

This is such a beautiful, intimate image of our Lord! But one I found foreign and uncomfortable when I was a child, teen, and young adult. I believed in Him and I believed He loved me, but with a distant, dutiful love. I approached God with confidence and faith because I knew His character. I could delight in Him but I could not see how or why He would delight in ME. I wanted to believe it - I tried to believe it - but it eluded me. All I could see were my failings. 

BUT GOD ... in His faithfulness, showed me where my thinking was wrong. I still have to fight for control of my thoughts at times because for decades, when I imagined how God viewed me when I approached Him, it looked like this:
"Michelle is here? Hmm. Let me see her stats, please. Oh, my. So many sins. And the same ones over and over. Why can't she do things right? But, she did obey some of My commands so I suppose I should give her credit for that. Her sins far outweigh her obedience, but at least she tried. Okay. Let her in."

But when I read the Revelation 3 passage, along with other verses in Scripture describing God's love for His children and His people, I clearly see the errors in my thinking. Because the truth is, when I approach the Throne of Grace, THIS is how the Lord responds:
"Michelle is here? WONDERFUL! I have been looking forward to our time together! I always enjoy the way she talks to Me and listens to Me, and I love her desire to know Me more. Please, bring her in!
I cannot wait to see her!"

It is this scenario that brings tears to my eyes, for even as I read it now, with all the years of legalism, disbelief, and fear behind me, I still marvel at the truth that God sees me - He knows me - and He wants me. And now, I rejoice in the knowledge that we can delight - in each other.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. Psalm 18:19

6.12.2018

Rescued LESS. Obeying MORE.

After a thankfully short, though frustratingly dry season in the Word, it has been a delight to turn the pages of my Bible this last week and feel LIFE and PEACE once again.
There is absolutely nothing that refreshes my heart or mind like Scripture.
And yet, more times than I care to admit, I have tried to find refreshment elsewhere.
Never succeeding.
Never satisfied.
How foolish!
The green pastures and still waters are always in the same place, waiting to welcome me, while the Shepherd stands close by to guide and protect me - and restore my soul.
Sheep are not known for their intelligence, and sadly, I fit in quite easily with this lackadaisical lot when it comes to following and obeying the voice of my Shepherd.
I do hear Him when He calls - because I know His voice.
But I do not always answer. Or follow where He leads.
And then, when I have fallen into a pit or am stuck in the crag of a cliff, I regret my obstinance and cry out, waiting until He turns back when He realizes I am not with Him.
For, He always knows when I have strayed.
He always looks for me.
And He always finds me.
I am thankful He is a faithful Shepherd because I am not a consistently faithful sheep.
It is my desire. But it is not always my discipline.
And He knows this!
And because He knows, He encourages me - with His voice - through His Word.

Thank You, Lord, for being a God who loves and rejoices over His sheep with tenderness and grace. It is Your kindness that leads us to repentance, and it is Your kindness that brings us back to You every time we wander from the fold. We wander far too often, yet Your mercy and forgiveness fall fresh each time, and Your arm is not too short to find us - and pull us back. Make me a woman who must be rescued less - because she obeys more. For following and obeying You is - a choice.

Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Psalm 100:3

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Psalm 23:1-3

"I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." John 10:14-15, 27-29

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. I Peter 2:25

6.11.2018

COMMITTED - an outing!



Our annual COMMITTED summer outing!
This year we chose to have dinner and sip coffee at Pacific City, and then sat on the sand talking, laughing, sharing, and enjoying the stars until the beach curfew forced us to leave. 
Another wonderful COMMITTED tradition. I love my girls! πŸ’—πŸ’•


And - the perfect logo for our night together!
“Commit to Something”
I told them I would find a verse to support it, and this one is terrific!
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” II Chronicles 16:9
For there is nothing better to commit to than the Lord!

6.07.2018

Caleb.


Practicing for his future career/ministry with children. 😊♥️πŸ™ƒ♥️
Caleb has always had a natural love for children,
and he has a unique love and compassion for kids with special needs.
We have no idea how the Lord will weave this passion into Caleb’s future, but HE does! 
So for now, we will wait on Him while providing consistent opportunities for our son to play with, serve, and care for children of all ages, stages, and abilities so he is ready, experienced, and able to start marching when the Lord says, “GO!”

6.05.2018

An End of the Year SPACE TRIP!


Today we had the privilege of being escorted on a private, interesting, fun, and extremely educational tour of JPL by our very own engineer/space guru, Mr. P. J. Guske.
When he discovered we were studying astronomy earlier this year, he quickly offered, "If you would like to visit JPL, just let me know and I will set it up." So - we did! And it was a GREAT day!

After visiting this facility with 1,000 other children and chaperones about eight years ago, I was beyond thrilled to be the only people on the tour. And, almost, the only non-employees on the campus! The visitor center, museum, and other exhibits were EMPTY, which meant our kids could actually look at, touch, listen to, and interact with every single exhibit. It was WONderful!


When Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie saw the (not to scale) models of spacecraft (Voyager, Cassini, Juno) at our first stop, they were beside themselves with excitement. They ran back and forth between them shouting things like, "Mom! This is the one that orbits Jupiter! Do you remember studying that?"
As their teacher, I was beyond pleased that they remembered our studies!




It was a thrill to see a full-size model of Galileo, but even better was learning that it was P. J.'s very first project at JPL! Galileo was launched in 1989, the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter.
(P. J.'s current project is the Mars Sample Return, the details of which I will not even try to explain as I am still trying to wrap my brain around what he must resolve to make it a success.)

One of the funniest parts of the day was when he explained his former project (ARM), which involved landing spacecraft on an asteroid, collecting and securing a boulder, launching said boulder from the asteroid to be secured by astronauts (somewhere in space) and then brought back to earth to be studied. As soon as he finished, I started laughing out loud at his casual manner of delivery.

"So it's as simple as that huh? Nevermind the atmospheric changes, the different gravitational pulls, the speed of rotation and revolution of the planets and moons, the thousands of moving rocks, ice and debris floating throughout, and the gazillion variables possible between launch and recovery. 
Nooooo problem!" <insert three adults laughing here!>
That is one of my favorite things about our friend. He is brilliant - yet personal, real, and FUN!





The (empty) museum was the highlight for Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie. They LOVED it!


The first American satellite launched into orbit in February 1958, Explorer 1.


The Spacecraft Assembly Facility
Too many details to share, but worth an internet search for it is quite fascinating!





Mars Curiosity Rover, a model.
Best story about this: 
Curiosity's tires have unique holes in them. In addition to helping it keep from getting stuck in the sand, the pattern of the holes was a sneaky way to leave JPL's mark on Mars. The holes are Morse Code for the letters J-P-L. (Dennis guffawed when he heard this! Hilarious!)



Since Dennis grew up with a rocket scientist for a father, he was more excited than any of us to be in this place. A scientist/engineer he is not, but he has a deep interest in the space world.
When I asked, "Are you having a good time?" he responded, "Are you KIDDING? This is a-MA-zing!"


Mission Control - where they talk to robots, not humans.
(aka The Center of the Universe)
JPL is able to talk with spacecraft through its Deep Space Network,
a network of antennas stationed around the world.




This was the last thing we saw during our tour - and Dennis loved the phrase.
We stood in the room for a few minutes thinking about how to apply this motto to the Christian life.
At first, we thought of mighty men in Scripture who dared to do great things for God. Things no one else was willing to do. When we got home, I was curious to find verses to support the motto.
And imagine - as with everything else in life - God's Word provided!

The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Psalm 126:3

Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. 
For consider what great things He has done for you. I Samuel 12:24

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20, 21

✦Thank you, P.J., for a truly wonderful day!✦

6.04.2018

A Graduation Reflection ... about our son.


Micah Steven,

I love this photo of you.
It depicts your physical strength, your playful personality, and your gentle and sometimes serious spirit, yet your facial expression makes it seem as though you could burst into laughter in a moment. And that is who you are! Who you have always been.
You were a sweet, affectionate, playful child ... easy to correct, quick to repent ... 
eager to please and quick to console, with a desire to encourage.
You have always been competitive, intense, passionate, and verbose.
Though these attributes have morphed as you matured in stature and grew in Christ, it is clear that you were who God created you to be from the moment you drew breath on this earth.
And Micah ... who you are is a BEAUTIFUL image of the One who made you, 
for you are exactly the young man He wants you to be!
And He will use ALL of who you are - strengths and weaknesses - for His purposes and His glory, for your good, if you remain fully yielded to Him. Day by day. Year after year.

The last six years of your educational studies proved difficult, to say the least.
You had to fight against yourself to complete every writing assignment, every math lesson, every science experiment, and every research project.
You fought every day.
And last night, you saw the fruit of your fortitude and faithfulness when your father handed you your high school diploma. Tangible evidence that you completed the work that was set before you.
Tangible evidence showing that even when aspects of life are arduous and seemingly impossible,
we can endure - overcome - and succeed when we do so with the Lord's strength and not our own.

In junior high, you picked up a guitar and a set of drumsticks, and your life was never the same.
For the first time, you felt confident - and competent.
Music has been your "safe place."
The only place you did not struggle. The only place you knew you were good at something.
And the Lord used that place of safety to hone your natural talent, provide an escape from discontentment and depression, and open your eyes to the truth that intelligence, talent, and skill have many faces - including playing music and writing songs.
Whether He uses your musical talent for a career or for a personal place of peace, I pray He will be at the center of every song, every lyric, and every performance, for it is He who blessed you with this outlet, so He must receive all the glory for its use.

You are a wonderful young man, Micah Steven.
And that is exactly what your dad and I have raised you to be - a MAN.
Men are independent. Strong. Self-aware. Leaders. Providers. 
And as a believer, kind, compassionate, patient, long-suffering, and forgiving must be added to the list.
You are not your own, Micah.
You were bought with a price by an amazing and powerful God who called you according to His purpose and will complete the work HE BEGAN in you the day you surrendered your life to Him.
You can gain the praise and acceptance of the whole world,
but it will profit you nothing if the cost is your soul. 
Seek Him first.
Seek Him often.
Seek Him most.
Because, Micah, there is no one who will ever love you as much as your God.
Love Him above all else - above everyone else - and you will live under the beauty of His blessing.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. Psalm 119:9

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

I love you, Micah.
Though I am not a fearful woman, there are fleeting moments when I think of life without you, and my heart explodes from imagined sorrow. In the song you wrote for me and dad, the line "though I go around the world never to be seen again" made me cry out, "Lord! Protect my son!" The reality of that thought is too much to bear. And yet, the moment I called on Him, He quieted my heart with the reminder, "He does not belong to you, daughter. He is Mine. And I know what is best for My own."
And, once again, I surrendered you to His sovereign plan.

I love you with all of my heart, and that love requires entrusting you to the One who created you and called you, and I pray I will be a mother who joyfully releases you to the independence of adulthood and rejoices with you as you make your plans - while letting the Lord direct your steps.

♥You always have been, and always will be, one of my greatest joys.♥

6.03.2018

The 1st Eastman Graduate!


Congratulations, Micah!
Now - on to real life!
We are excited to see how the Lord directs your steps.

6.02.2018

A Family (pre) Graduation Celebration!


A pre-graduation πŸŽ“CELEBRATION πŸŽ“with the family!

We gathered together to share in the joy of Micah completing high school
and moving into the adult world.
Dennis opened our evening with a challenge to and encouragement for our son.
Micah shared the highlights and lowlights of his high school years
- and then - he sang a song he wrote for me and Dennis. ♥️😭♥️
We gathered around Micah to close the evening in prayer ... all aunts and uncles, grandparents, me and Dennis personally lifting him up to the Lord - and leaving him in His sovereign hands.
A sweet memory to be stored up in this mother's heart.

And tomorrow - the Graduation Ceremony! πŸŽ“
He will be an official graduate, and we couldn’t be more excited for him!


Brothers - Best Friends


The oldest brother and his "littles."


Nonna and Pop Pop


The Millers came down from Fresno!


Aunt Demma, Uncle Doug, and Douglas


Cousins!


Cut from the same exact mold.


One of my seven greatest joys!

6.01.2018

This and that.

I have a secret fascination/obsession with fun, cool, fancy cars. I have no desire to own one, but I sure like riding in them! And on the rare occasion when I am allowed to be the driver, I take full advantage of the opportunity.
My nephew recently purchased a Jeep.
Not a regular Jeep, but an it-has-a-gazillion-upgrades-and-there-are-still-more-to-be-installed Jeep. When I saw this gem on his IG feed, I commented, "You're going to let your favorite aunt drive it, right?" He replied, "Of course!"
And when he rolled into town last weekend, he kept his word!
He let me drive around town without any backseat driving, white knuckles, or sucking in large gulps of air in a panic. It was GREAT!
And then Kyle made LUKE'S day when he let him (a 16-year-old with only a learner's permit) drive the prized possession. He is one terrific cousin! Thank you for a memorable family night, Kyle. We love you!

They DID IT!
Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie completed their final Reading Curriculum book.
<insert the longest and most enthusiastic happy dance ever seen>
It took two years.
Uncountable hours.
Dozens of rules, games, stories ... all used to teach auditory awareness, phonics, how to break down words to sound them out, and more.
I never - ever - ever - thought I would be able to teach my dyslexic children to read, but by the grace of God we did it!
TOGETHER.

~~~ When Caleb was diagnosed with dyslexia nine years ago, the Doctor who served us said something I never forgot. It made me cry when she said it, and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think of it now.
Caleb was five years old. He had memorized the entirety of Psalm 139 (24 verses) and all 50 states and their capitals, but he could not remember what sound "k" makes.
After she tested him and reported that he was at the lowest point on the dyslexia scale, explaining that she could not promise he would ever read, I asked her, "How is it possible that he can memorize entire chapters of Scripture but cannot recall the sound of one letter of the alphabet?"
She, a believer, looked Caleb straight in his five-year-old eyes and said, "Caleb, God's Word is powerful, and if you keep learning it and memorizing it, He will bless you. Never stop reading "
She didn't focus on what was "wrong" or what he could or could not do. She focused on Scripture. And on Christ.

The Lord has recalled her words to mind countless times these past nine years - and I am thankful.
The most recent recall was about a month ago when it appeared Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie were not pushing past the next hurdle in reading. I was frustrated and discouraged, and then BAM! It may as well have been an audible voice that cried out, "Put the books away and have them read MY WORDS, Michelle!" So, I did.
Now, we listen to praise music every morning during chores/breakfast and begin our studies with an oral reading of the Psalm and Proverb of the day. And the reading barrier has been destroyed!
Though retention is not high since their brains are working so hard to decipher the letters swimming on the page, the Word of God IS flowing into their minds, and He promises that it never returns void. Thank You, Lord!

If you are looking for a way to introduce your children to missionaries - acquire these books!
I read these with the older boys a decade ago, and am enjoying them once again with Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie.
They are excellent introductions to the lives of extraordinary men and women who willingly sacrificed comfort and life for the sake of the Gospel.
Their lives were difficult and filled with hardship, but that is the reality of life. Everyone must suffer, and everyone will die. The question is - how will we LIVE? For ourselves? Or for Christ?

As your children grow, they can read full biographies of their favorites they discover in these volumes, and I guarantee, they WILL have favorites! I read the books out loud after we read Scripture, and just about every morning I hear, "One more chapter, pleeeeeease?" You will laugh, you will be inspired, and you will cry through every final chapter. And along the way, you will be forced to look at how you spend your own days, and what you do for the Kingdom of God. And it will be good.

Below are two quotes by Nate Saint that challenged me.
"And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives... and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted."

I would rather die now than to live a life of oblivious ease in so sick a world. - Nate Saint


~~~ Happy Weekend, everyone!
We are looking forward to celebrating our oldest son, Micah, as he walks across the stage to receive his high school diploma Sunday evening. Woohoo!
We have been raising him to become a man, and he is well on his way!
Praise God for milestones we can use as markers in our journey of life and faith.