9.29.2018

Fun - Friendship - and $5 bills!

There are MANY details behind the story of these $5 bills, but I want to share a few because they make me smile! 
๐Ÿ’ต When we shared our desire to do emergency foster care for babies, our dear friends, the Guskes, announced they would save $5 bills for our adoption/foster care jar. I was blessed, but not at all surprised, by her generosity because the Guskes are GIVERS. In all areas of life and love.
๐Ÿ’ต Somehow, it was not Julie, but her husband P.J. who ended up being the one to use cash most and would receive change - in $5's!
It got to the point where no matter what he purchased, he ALWAYS received $5 bills! (He once bought a $1 bottle of water with a $20 bill, expecting to get a $10, a $5 and four $1's in return - but instead - was handed THREE $5 bills! At which time he texted Julie and said, "Tell Michelle the Lord REALLY wants me to support her foster care ministry!")
It's happened so often that when they were recently on a trip and Julie declared, "I am dying of thirst! I am going to buy a water bottle,” P.J. immediately called out, "DON'T use a $20 bill!!!!!!" ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜…
๐Ÿ’ต The $5 Foster Fund has become a running joke in the Guske home, and I love hearing all of their stories!
My favorite thing, however, is that they use it to start a conversation about foster care/adoption with the person who hands them their change. {BRILLIANT!}
After sharing the $5 tale with a clerk at their hotel, she handed P.J. his change, and there were three $5 bills in the stack. He looked directly at her and asked, "You did that on purpose, didn't you?!?" She simply smiled. And Julie laughed. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’™
How glad I am that God made His creation to serve and love - with humor!
#fostercare
#adoption
#wecannotdoeverything
#butwecanalldoSOMEthing

9.28.2018

We must remember.

martyr (mรคr' ter) n.
[<from the Greek word for "witness"]
1: a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion
2: a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:3

Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie and I just finished this book. It was a terrific companion to our history focus the past two weeks - the early church and the martyrs who willingly, and often joyfully, gave up their lives for the sake of the Gospel. I won't lie ... it is a hard read. My children waited for tears to fill my eyes near the end of each story, for they know how deeply I am affected by testimonies of the steadfast faith of godly men and women who boldly refuse to denounce Christ to save themselves. The tears fell, my voice choked, and my children, too, were affected.
Who, I wonder, would not be moved by such accounts? Even those who tortured the Christians with vehement anger were silenced and awed by their unwavering commitment to their Lord. And many torturers, like Paul, surrendered themselves to the very God they sought to destroy.

There are dozens of similar books. Volumes filled with the testimonies of those who were tortured and lived, and eyewitness accounts from those who watched their brothers and sisters die - for Jesus Christ. And these books matter. They do not make the reader "feel good" but they absolutely force the reader to think. Am I willing to die for Jesus Christ? Is my love for God bigger than my fear? Do I hold the same conviction that compelled Jim Elliot to risk everything to bring the Gospel to a people who had never heard the name of Jesus? "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Would I suffer or die so my neighbor, my uncle, my governor, my senator might truly live because they witnessed me singing hymns to my God and praying for my torturers and could not resist the desire to know and love the same God?

If you have never read the powerful stories of the men and women martyred for Christ, please do.
If you have read them, read them again.
Because, brothers and sisters, we cannot and should not - forget.
"Never did the church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in the blood. The ship of the church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls on her deck. We must suffer and we must die, if we are ever to conquer this world for Christ."
- Charles Spurgeon


A few highlights from the book Jesus Freaks. (stories provided by Voice of the Martyrs)

- A Christian prisoner in ____ was asked to sign a statement containing charges against fellow Christians that would lead to their arrest.
He said, "The chains keep me from signing this."
The officer protested, "But you are not in chains!"
"I am," said the Christian. "I am bound by the chain of witnesses who throughout the centuries gave their lives for Jesus Christ. I am a link in this chain. I will not break it."

- An officer told a Christian he was beating, "I am almighty, as you suppose your God to be. I can kill you."
The Christian answered, "The power is all on my side. I can love you while you torture me to death."

- The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society. There are things for which an uncompromising stand is worthwhile. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

- Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons. - Therese of Lisieux

- You can kill us, but you cannot do us any real harm. - Justin Martyr, 165 AD

- Two Chinese Christians were led to torture and death.
One quoted Jesus' words, "It is finished," in a whisper.
His brother answered, "No, that's not what Jesus said when He suffered. He said, 'It is accomplished.'"

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you,
as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings,
that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed,
because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
I Peter 4:12-16

The story I found most touching was titled "Her Last Prayer."

The soldiers had discovered their illegal Bible study.
As the pastor was reading from the Bible, men with guns suddenly broke into the home, terrorizing the believers who had gathered there to worship. The officer shouted insults and threatened to kill the Christians. The leading officer pointed his gun at the pastor's head. "Hand me your Bible, he demanded.
Reluctantly, the pastor handed over his Bible, his prized possession. With a sneer on his face, the guards threw the Word of God on the floor at his feet.
He glared at the small congregation. "We will let you go," he growled, "but first, you must spt o this book if lies. Anyone who refuses will be shot." The believers had no choice but to obey the officer's orders.
A soldier pointed his gun at one of the men. "You first."
The man slowly got up and knelt down by the Bible. Reluctantly, he spit on it, praying, "Father, please forgive me." He stood up and walked to the door. The soldiers stood back and allowed him to leave.
"Okay, you!" the soldier said, nudging a woman forward. In tears, she could barely do what the soldier demanded. She spit only a little, but it was enough. She too was allowed to leave.
Quietly, a young girl came forward. Overcome with love for her Lord, she knelt down and picked up the Bible. She wiped off the spit with her dress. "What have they done to Your Word? Please forgive them," she prayed.
The soldier put his pistol to her head. Then he pulled the trigger.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

9.26.2018

Both are NECESSARY. And both are GOOD.


To meet needs is noble,
but to admit our own is still necessary.
- John MacArthur

This is SUCH a fantastic quote!
And few words need to be added to the Scriptures which support it.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." John 13:12-14

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

Wonderful verses. Clear commands. Beautiful images of serving and loving others.
But let's be honest.
It is often far easier to serve others than to ask for others - to serve us.
And yet, when we don't ask, when we refuse to share our needs because of pride or fear, we not only rob others of the blessing of ministering to us, we rob them of the joy of walking in obedience to the Lord by living out what Scripture commands.
It is, without a doubt, an absolute JOY to serve others when they are in need.
So we must remember that they feel equal joy when they are given the opportunity to do the same - for us.

Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
Rejoice or weep with one another – Romans 12:15
Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
Be kind and forgiving to one another – Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13
Comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13
Be compassionate with one another – 1 Peter 3:8
Pray for one another – James 5:16

Lord, make us men and women who are as willing to be vulnerable and admit we need one another as we are willing to serve one another.
Serving is easy because we can hide our own struggles and sorrows behind smiles and platters of pasta and a few hours at the park with someone's child. We can serve without being "known."
But admitting we are weak, admitting we cannot do this thing called 'life' on our own, and admitting that we need someone else ... these things put us in a place of insecurity, transparency, and vulnerability. We worry more about whether others will reject us than wonder how they will LOVE us.
Forgive us for this, Father, for it is You who created the body of Christ for a purpose - to serve one another. Love one another. Care for one another. Comfort, encourage, and show compassion to one another.  It is often easier to DO these things than to RECEIVE them, Lord, but oh, how beautiful it is to be on the receiving end of such kindness and grace!
Teach us how to do them better - giving and receiving. You created both, for both are necessary.
And everything You made and everything You do - is GOOD.
May we learn to meet the needs of others and admit our own with humility and grace, and glorify You in the process. Amen.

9.23.2018

A wonderful gift!

Recently, after a particularly discouraging week, the Lord used one of His children to brighten my day, and refocus my perspective.
My sister-in-law, Denise.♥
Unbeknownst to me, she had tucked a card into Dennis' duffle bag when he went up north to visit Mom Eastman.
After he returned, I was unloading his bag when I came across the card - which had my name on it.
When I opened it, a check fell into my hands and these words were written inside the card...
Michelle, 
I love that you have a heart for orphans and I hope this contribution will help you get closer to those who hold your heart.
Love, Denise.
Such precious and thoughtful words! Just when I needed them most.

I placed her card next to our foster care/adoption jar and read it repeatedly in the days ahead, encouraged each time. It was the phrase "a heart for orphans" that gripped me with every read, and I began to wonder, "How does Scripture describe God's heart for orphans?" It was a worthy search, for the treasures are rich!

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3

The Lord watches over the sojourners; He upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin. Psalm 146:9

O Lord, You hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart; You will incline Your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. Psalm 10:17, 18

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Psalm 27:10

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation. Psalm 68:5

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

How good our God is to use the body of Christ to encourage us in the faith and spur us on to love and good deeds! Our callings and our convictions may be different, but our need for encouragement and support is the same, and He supplies it in abundance through the faithfulness and obedience of our brothers and sisters. Thank You, Lord, for such a wonderful gift!

9.21.2018

HIS ways. They are always better than mine!

The fear of falling in love with a child and then losing him/her is a real one. 
Today, 750 children will enter foster care with the hopes that someone faces that fear head on and loves them in spite of it. - Johnston Moore

This quote hit me hard.
The Lord continues to increase our desire to engage in foster care while continuing to ask us - to wait.
We know the "why" of the waiting and we are obeying His orders (admittedly, with impatience at times), but we are also working hard to get ourselves ready for the day when He says, "NOW! It's time! Let's GO!" Oh, friends! What a day that will be!

We knew when we surrendered our family to foster care/adoption the ride would be anything but smooth and simple. Orphan care is a spiritual battle, and the enemy never sends his weakest warriors to fight. We have not even filled out an application yet, and already he is trying to discourage us.
I will confess that he has accomplished his goal more than once. We take three steps forward and he knocks us back two. BUT GOD. Every time the enemy takes a swipe at us, the Lord delivers a counter-attack and sends him scurrying back into the hole where he belongs.

I am grateful and embarrassed when witnessing such a scene because I am reminded of how small my faith really is. Why do I care about the tactics of the enemy? Why do I think he could possibly win? If God has called the Eastman family to take in children through foster care and/or adoption, n o t h i n g will keep His will from being accomplished! Including my own weakness.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5, 6

Forget your own ways, Michelle! Acknowledge the Lord. Let HIM direct. If you do, you will always be going in the right direction.

I love that Scripture makes everything so clear. No confusion. No questions.
Be still and KNOW - that I am God. Psalm 46:10
He is God. I am not. My only choice is to surrender. And trust.

So, I do.
And, I will.
Over and over again until I stop trying to do things my way, and let the Lord do things HIS way.
Because His ways are always best.

This God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true;
He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8, 9

9.20.2018

Working early feels good!


When you and your boys are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6:30 am, and the school day does not begin until 8:45, it is the PERFECT time to pull the couch apart to vacuum every nook and cranny, sweep/vacuum under and behind said couch, and rotate and vacuum the rug
(with the scent of chocolate chip muffins baking in the oven)- because you can!
The BEST part?
Everyone was so thrilled with the cleanliness and freshness of the room, they asked if we could do ALL of our school lessons in it! (after consuming the entire pan of a dozen muffins, of course)
The answer was a resounding, “Yes! Yes, we can!”
(I’m now pondering what we can deep-clean on our next “early morning of energy!”๐Ÿ˜‚)
P.S. The early-morning gray skies affected my camera lighting.
Our shutters are not actually streaked with black spray paint!

9.19.2018

Boldness produces STRENGTH.

Sunday.
Wow. What a sermon!
Though I have been sitting under excellent expository teaching since I was twelve years old, I never cease to be amazed by the impact of a powerful sermon. Pastors who speak the truth with passion and courage, no matter how unpopular, are the men I want to listen to and learn from, and then implement their teaching into my personal life. Praise God for men who daily bury themselves in God's Word, and then share the truth, the wisdom, and the encouragement they find within its pages with the body of Christ week after week! They are treasures.

Our text:
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16

"Made Strong"

- Exasperation and exhaustion in any and all areas of life can cause us to want to give up.
- We must be made STRONG in the Lord in order to endure the difficulties of life.
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10
 - Grace = Divine energy!
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
I Corinthains 15:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. I Peter 5:10

➙The Exhortation v. 14
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
hold fast = to cling to someone (CHRIST!)
Don't give up! Don't turn back! Don't surrender!
HOLD ON to your public confession of Christ! 
... but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Hebrews 3:6

➙The Encouragement v. 15
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus understands us because He was LIKE US. Human - weak - tired - angry - tempted - sad.
Be encouraged!!! 
You have full access to the High Priest - Jesus Christ - and He is everything you need!
Jesus is ...
"The Son of God - mighty to save, and the son of man - ready to feel." J. C. Ryle
Though Jesus is exalted, He is NOT indifferent!
Jesus' fight with sin was greater than our fight because we yield to temptation - but He NEVER yielded! (like a boxer who goes the full 15 rounds instead of being knocked out in round 3)

➙The Expectation v. 16
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We must go before the Lord BOLDLY and EXPECTANTLY.
We should expect to receive mercy and grace because He promises to give it to us!
Our God gives Grace for our steps and Mercy when we stumble.
We also recieve Help!
When everything is falling apart, GO TO THE LORD for help!
Not yourself, not people, CHRIST!

"Come" = come and come and come again! (present tense verb)

Draw near constantly, through prayer.
Anytime. All the time. The Throne Room is ALWAYS OPEN!!!
Draw near candidly.
Boldly. Without fear. Open. Frank. Honest. Emotional. As you are!
Draw near confidently, with expectations.
Expectations of help in a time of need.
Time of need = a specific time, and a specific need
As your days, so shall your strength be. Deuteronomy 33:25

Thank You, Lord, that when we come weak and troubled before Your throne, boldly sharing all of our sorrows, You sympathize, You encourage, You help, and You make us strong.
You are such an amazing and good God!

9.18.2018

I want a disposition like his!

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing the praises of Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1, 2

This is one of my (many) favorite passages of Scripture.
I love it because it is a reminder that praise, honor, and gratefulness to our God are - a choice.
We decide if we will praise Him or ignore Him.
We choose to give thanks for all He has done, or complain about what He has not.
We choose to proclaim His deeds to those around us - or remain silent.
We decide if we will rejoice in Him or rebel against His will because it does not match our own.

Two verses.
Two verses packed with a challenge. Will we match the passionate commitment of the Psalmist?
I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing the praises of Your name, O Most High.

Out of curiosity, and because I find word studies fascinating, I looked up the verb "will" in the dictionary and found the definition perfectly fitting.
will 
1—used to express a future event
2—used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent
3—used to express a command, exhortation, or injunction
4—used to express frequent, customary, or habitual action or natural tendency or disposition
5—used to express probability
6—used to express inevitability, determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness
7—used to express capability or sufficiency

Can you hear the heart of the Psalmist echoed in those descriptions?
desire
choice
habitual action
disposition
persistence
inevitability

An excellent reminder that we must be purposeful and thoughtful about thanking, talking about, rejoicing in, and praising our God. And if we are purposeful, perhaps one day "I will" shall become "I do" and "I am" because like the Psalmist, we, too, will possess a disposition of habitual rejoicing in our God!
I do give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
I do tell of all Your wonderful deeds.
I am glad and rejoice in You;
I am singing the praises of Your name, O Most High.

May it be so, Lord. May it be so!

9.13.2018

I "have to" - and I am GRATEFUL!

Spending time studying the Vigorous Woman in Proverbs 31 filled my mind with dozens of thoughts, questions, and ponderings.
First and foremost, I had to ask myself, "Am I a vigorous woman?!?"
Then followed considerations such as, "Do I work hard to care for and meet the needs of my family?"
"Do I fill my time with good things, purposeful things, things that bless my husband and my children?"
"Am I busy serving my family and others or am I idle?" (idleness is not the same as rest)
"Do I have a vision for the future and plan accordingly?"
"Does my work glorify God and bless others?"

These questions have been rolling over and over in my mind, and last night I was not able to go to sleep because of the rolling. I kept thinking of all the things I need to do/have to do to run our home, serve Dennis, and train our children. I started with the first moment I open my eyes in the morning, moved through the details of a typical day, and recorded the plethora of items that flooded my mind.
When I looked back over the list after the last wave finally washed over my mind, I smiled.
I smiled because the Lord opened my eyes wide to show me that while there are many things I
"have to do," they are not burdens. They are BLESSINGS!

I have to ... 
Wake up early because ... I have a family who needs me to serve them and prepare them for the day
Wash dishes because ... my family has food to eat
Do multiple loads of laundry because ... my family has clothes to wear and keep them warm
Clean bathrooms because ... my family has clean water with which to brush teeth and bathe
Sweep and mop floors because ... my family has feet to walk and play
Grocery shop because ... the Lord provides money to buy food for our family
Go shoe and clothes shopping because ... the Lord provides money to cover my family
Prepare lesson plans because ... we have the freedom to homeschool
Teach my children because ... I have children who are able/willing to learn
Make meals because ... my family is healthy and able to eat
Drive teenagers to work because ... they have jobs and are learning hard work and responsibility
Drive teens/children to sports practice because ... they are healthy and able to move
Get everyone ready for church because ... we have freedom of religion and a church family
Exercise because ... I am alive and healthy enough to move
Pay our bills because ... the Lord provides a job for Dennis to support our family
Buy hay and rabbit food because ... we have a pet to love and enjoy
Fill up the gas tank and maintain the van because ... we have a vehicle to drive that holds our family
Pay for health insurance because ... our family is taken care of when sick or injured
Say goodbye to Dennis every day because ... he has a job that provides for our family
Wash and change sheets because ... we have beds to sleep in
Trim bushes and pull weeds because ... we are surrounded by the beauty of God's foliage
Organize bookshelves and closets because ... our children have books to read and games to play
Restart Wifi multiple times because ... I can communicate with people around the world
Plan for birthdays and holidays because ... there are always reasons to celebrate
Go through trials because ... they force me to fall deeper into the outstretched arms of God
Die to self because ... Dennis and my children need me to love God, and them, more than I love myself
Pray and read the Word because ... I am dependent on God for all things

I am committing myself to eliminate the phrase "I have to" from my vocabulary and replace it with the phrase, "I GET to!" because serving my family, and working hard to bless them is a PRIVILEGE, not a chore. Thank You, Lord, for opening my eyes to this beautiful truth!

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

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17 

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Proverbs 31:17 

She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. Proverbs 31:19

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

9.12.2018

A woman of VIGOR!

Another excellent study with my girls!
We dove right into our discussion on this month's attribute of the Proverbs 31 woman and did not take a breath until the last "Amen" was spoken in our closing prayer time.
It was lively, interesting, convicting, and uplifting, and after each person spoke, someone from the group shared a word of encouragement and praise - just for her. I LOVE when they do that for each other!
We are already eager to begin the next study!

I pray you will be encouraged by this lesson. 

The Proverbs 31 monthly assignment:
- listen to the entire sermon and then listen (again) to the specific point we are studying
- record the areas in which you already see success - and - where  you need to grow and mature 

The first character quality we studied - VIRTUE.

This month's character quality - VIGOR.

What a Woman of Vigor looks like:

❃ She is a worker, a busy bee
❃ She has a zest for life, and her satisfaction in her work is a catalyst for the zest
❃ She has an irrepressible desire to bless her family
❃ She is the opposite of the sluggard
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. v. 31
❃ She is up early, preparing for the day
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens. v. 15

❃ She is not idle
❃ Because she is purposefully busy, she can protect herself from sin because there is little/no time for idleness, gossip, meddling in the business of others, complaining or whining
❃ She cares for the home
❃ She prepares everyone for their day
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. v. 27
❃ She plans ahead for the needs of her family
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. v. 21
❃ She has vision
❃ She is orderly and disciplined
❃ She is thoughtful
❃ She is not overwhelmed by thoughts of the future
❃ She can laugh at the future because she is prepared, and she is prepared because she planned
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. v. 25
❃ God is a worker, so she is a worker!
❃ Her work glorifies God
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. v. 30
❃ Her work blesses others, especially her family
❃ She pours herself into others (she is a faucet - not a sink!)
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” v. 28, 29


An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31: 10-31

9.10.2018

The Eastman Academy 2018-2019. School is in session!


The Eastman Academy is OPEN for education!
We are celebrating our 14th year of homeschooling - and we are thankful!

Our 2018-19 THEME:

Pursuing Wisdom
When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
Proverbs 4:3-9

Our Scripture Memory Challenge:
Proverbs 2 and Proverbs 3

Let the Learning Begin!






Our High School Students!
(This photo collage completely sums up their relationship - 
and the disdain in the first photo is genuine, not staged.
A rebuke may or may not have been given during the photo shoot. <grin>)


Luke - Senior!


Caleb - Freshman!


Our Elementary Students!


Josiah - 5th Grade


Isaiah - 4th Grade


Ellie - 3rd Grade 


 The Eastman Academy now has an Alumnus!
It just wouldn't be right to leave out the graduate since ...
Once an Eastman ALWAYS an Eastman!

9.09.2018

THIS is what we do with it!

I just committed to a 15-week study of Systematic Theology in a Sunday school class - and I am excited!
I spent a year in college (2.7 decades ago) plunging into this very topic and thought a refresher course would be a grand idea. This morning's lesson included the Introduction and an overview of the entire course. I was pleased to find that the vocabulary and definitions were familiar, and the concepts were like rediscovering old friends. (I am sure my theology professor would be pleased to know how well his lessons were digested and retained!) I am eager to spend the next few months hearing about, reading through, and meditating on the beauty of theology, specifically systematic theology, which teaches us how to discover what the entire Bible has to say about any given topic.
Sunday morning worship is meant to equip the saints, and between our pastor's teaching in the first hour, and this class in the second, I will have plenty of tools with which to work throughout the week!
And I am thankful.

Within the eight-page packet of notes printed for us, there was one section that popped off the pages and made me want to dig deeper. The title of this little section:
What Do We Do With An Inspired And Inerrant Bible?
- Love it
- Read it
- Memorize it
- Meditate on it
- Study it
- Listen to it
- Obey it
- Teach it
- Preach it
- Counsel/Disciple with it
- Defend it
- Evangelize with it
What a fantastic list!
My first thought was, "Find verses to support each one!" And so, that is how I spent my afternoon. It was a wonderful way to close the day.

What Do We Do With An Inspired And Inerrant Bible?

Love it 
How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

➛ Read it 
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

➛ Memorize it 
I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11

➛ Meditate on it
... but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

➛ Study it 
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. II Timothy 3:14, 15

➛ Listen to it
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

➛ Obey it
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. John 14:23, 24

➛ Teach it
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19, 20

➛ Preach it
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. II Timothy 4:2

➛ Counsel/Disciple with it
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. II Timothy 3:16, 17

Defend it
He (elders) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Titus 1:9

Evangelize with it
How then can they call on the One in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14, 15

May we faithfully live these out, cherishing God's Word so we can declare with the Psalmist,
"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97

9.06.2018

A fantastic FRUIT!


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

I love this little corner of our home.
A corner that has no function, but serves as a sweet space to be used to encourage and remind.
The Bible is the main resident of the table, and next to it sits a small stand which holds one of my favorite purchases. Watercolors that reflect the Fruit of the Spirit. 
I rotate the cards every few weeks, each one acting as a megaphone for Scripture.
Though there is but one word, the context is familiar. And each time I pass by, it's as though the card itself shouts, "Look at me! What do you see? What does it mean? Why does it matter?"
And I hear the memorized phrase run through my mind. "The fruit of the Spirit IS ..."
This is a good thing.
My mind never stops. It is always thinking, planning, wondering, praying, pondering. I love having an active mind, but activity can drown silence. To be still and listen to the Lord, I must quiet my mind. And to keep my thoughts focused on Christ and things of eternity, I have to place things before my eyes that force them to look UP. So, I do! 
Every room in our home has Scripture in it. It has to. For me, it has to be the focus, for there are too many things that fight for control of my thoughts and my affections, and without God's Word ever before me throughout the day, I am prone to forget Him as my thoughts wander hither and yon. 
I loved these watercolor reflections of the Fruit of the Spirit the moment I saw them almost three years ago and knew exactly what I would do with them once they were mine.
This is it! They have a prominent place in our home, in the direct line of traffic, where everyone who passes through sees them, repeatedly, every day.
I don't know how often the other seven Eastmans see the displayed fruit and reflect upon it, but for me, it is a sweet and precious reminder of what my Father desires to see in His children, and what I am able to display through the help, conviction, and encouragement of the Holy Spirit.
And for this - I am grateful. ♥

Some verses that focus on "kindness" that we can ponder together.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31, 32

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. I Corinthians 13:4

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself. Proverbs 11:17

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.
Proverbs 21:21

And my favorite use of the word KINDNESS in the Bible ...
The kindness of God leads you to repentance. Romans 2:4

9.04.2018

What I want. But I need to want it MORE.

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
Psalm 42:1, 2

I want this.
The longing.
The desire.
The singular focus.

But it will not just happen.
I have to stir up the desire.
Increase the longing.
Fix my eyes in one place.
On the face of my God.

It is a worthy pursuit.
I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently find Me. Proverbs 8:17

And when we find Him, we can share the enthusiasm of the Psalmist who declares,
You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

This prayer echoes my heart. I am both encouraged and convicted that a man of such godly character cried out for the very thing my own heart desires. I will never love my God perfectly, but He knows I do love Him, and He will be patient with my human weaknesses and failings until I learn to love Him and want Him more.

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still." - A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

May we seek God more diligently today than we did yesterday.

9.03.2018

This and that.

We enjoyed a terrific summer as a family!
Mission trips.
Beach days.
Family nights.
Camp.
Dennis and Micah traveling overseas.
Museums, park days, skating.
Church.
Friends.
Ministry.
Movies and games.
It was a great summer!
And we are thankful for the fun, relaxation, and time together as a family, especially as we are about to dive into a full year of homeschooling, athletics, ministry events, and everything else that takes place in family life - including the unexpected.
We have no idea what the Lord has in store for the 2018-2019 school year, but HE KNOWS, and He has already gone before us, so we will walk by faith and trust Him with the details.

Speaking of the unexpected ...
Please pray for Dennis' mom, Ginny.
She was recently diagnosed with a rare form of
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and started treatment last week.
We are beyond thankful that Dennis returned home from his overseas travel in time to drive up north to spend this past weekend with her.
Her first round of treatment was mild, so she was feeling good and in great spirits during their days together.
They enjoyed a lovely afternoon with D's sister, Denise, and her family, lounging in the backyard, eating, talking, and laughing, and then spent time together over breakfast the following morning before Dennis headed home.
How grateful we are that Mom felt good for this visit!
None of us know what to expect in the weeks and months ahead, so we will rejoice in the GOOD days and praise God for His presence and His peace in the not-so-good days. ❤ We love you, Mom! ❤

Does anyone remember PEN PALS?
A sweet sister in Christ and one of our faithful letter writers for our miscarriage ministry asked if Ellie would be interested in becoming a Pen Pal with her daughter. They are the same age, so it seemed a perfect fit.
I didn't even ask Ellie if she would be interested because I already knew she would LOVE it!
And I was correct in my assumption.
The day that letter came in the mail Ellie was beside herself with excitement!
These girls have never met, but they are already bonding through the written word. And it is a beautiful thing.
In this day of social media, when birthday greetings are sent in a text and party invitations come through virtual mail, receiving a hand-written note in the mailbox is a DELIGHT!
Who else wants to join the Pen Pal fun?!?
Let the joy of writing and receiving hand-written letters COMMENCE!

How many of you are kindred bibliophiles?
How many of you have ridiculously long Amazon Wishlists - filled with books, books, BOOKS?
How many of you actually finish one book before starting another? <grin>
I currently have a dozen biographies patiently sitting in my Wishlist - just WAITING to be purchased and read with fervor!
And along with the books is an actual (and adorable) Phone Book - because - OLD SCHOOL is a beautiful thing!
#toomanybooks #toomanyGOODbooks #needanotherlifetimetoreadthemall

Only SEVEN days until The Eastman Academy opens its doors for the 2081-2019 school year!
We used to start in late August when Dennis began his new school year because once he was back in the classroom, our summer was officially over.
But Biola has changed their academic calendar, which means the Eastman Academy changes its calendar too!
I am excited about the year ahead!
Our course of study (Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie):
- history, the middle ages
- science, zoology (flying creatures)
- grammar/reading
- spelling
- math
- Bible (memorizing Proverbs 2 & 3)
- P. E.
Luke and Caleb will do most of their courses through BYA, but will still be home three days a week so we can enjoy them!
Our 14th year! Let the Educational Games BEGIN!

Ellie was the ecstatic recipient of this electric moped when one of her sweet friends moved out of state and had to leave it behind.
Not one day goes by without it being hauled out of the garage and thoroughly enjoyed in our backyard, or up and down the neighborhood sidewalks.
At first, everyone rode it independently.
Then, all of a sudden, Ellie and Isaiah became tandem riders - laughing and hooting and cheering the entire time they are circling the yard.
They take turns driving and have a grand time together.
(Josiah rides it too, but his legs are so ridiculously long he can barely stay on the bike! <smile>)
We call it the Bonding Bike!

➤ Here's to a new week!
May we intentionally look for ways to ENCOURAGE, SUPPORT, and SERVE others as we go about our daily business, careful not to waste the time we have been given, but to use our time for the glory of God and the good of others.
Happy Monday, everyone!

9.02.2018

An excellent way to begin the day!

Let the first words out of your mouth while still on your pillow be a cry to God,
"I need You again today."
 - John Piper

And then, read, meditate on, and pray back these truths to the Lord!

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. I Peter 5:7

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Corinthians 12:9

And pray with CONFIDENCE, for our God is a faithful God who cannot lie and does not change.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Praise Him for this truth, and for His promises!
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:21-24


AMEN! A-MEN!