Because of them I run faster and farther!

These past few days the Lord has been pushing me to be acutely aware of - and grateful for - the blessing of faithful, transparent, godly sisters in Christ.
It is easy to be with a group of women and talk about many things, yet speak of nothing that matters for eternity. It is easy to share the trials and hardships of life, yet fail to challenge each other to respond biblically. It is easy to talk about weaknesses and sin, yet refuse to be held accountable to turn from those sins and walk in holiness.
In short, it is easy to hide.
We hide behind words. We hide behind theology. We hide behind the chaos and distraction of conversation. We share just enough to let people know about us without letting them see the real us.

He did not create us for isolation. He created us for relationship. First, with Himself. And then, with others.
And because He created us for relationship, He designed the body of Christ and gave us - each other!

The Lord has carried me through beautiful seasons of abundance and difficult seasons of drought in terms of intimate friendships, but whether in plenty or in want, He has always been faithful to use sisters in Christ to encourage, challenge, and stir me up to love and good deeds. Some were used in one brief exchange, never to be seen again. Others were authors of books, writers of hymns, or leaders of a study. Some were older women who willingly invested in the life of a young mom. Some were acquaintances who always had a smile and a kind word when we crossed paths. And for each one - I am thankful.

But it is the faithful few, the ones who seek to know all of me, not just what is seen, the ones who rejoice with me in times of joy and weep with me in times of sorrow, the ones who see me as I really am in all my sin and still say, "You are enough", the ones who speak truth to me in love because they care about my holiness more than my happiness, and the ones who purposely pursue me for no other reason than to enjoy one another ... it is for these women I am most grateful, for they are the ones the Lord uses to refine me in ways that are unique and precious.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, ... Proverbs 27:6

This text exchange is an example of the kind of women the Lord has chosen to bless me with at this stage of my life. We (four women) are rarely together in person, we gather but a couple of times a year as a group, but we take full advantage of communicating with one another in ways that edify and exhort, for we know how much we need it - and how much we need each other.

Sister 1: Praying the Lord would continue to teach each of us how to run well!! I know the Lord is faithfully showing me where I have been blinded and where habitual sins have been hidden in my heart and they are being uprooted! I am thankful and desire to be continually transformed!! Love you all!

Sister 2: The fact that the four of us are willing to REJOICE when the Lord reveals our sin to us is absolutely amazing, beautiful, and as it should be! Maturity in Christ is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
Not always easy but wonderful nonetheless!

Sister 3: Amen!!! Praying He keeps showing me my weights and sins!
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Sister 4: Love what everyone said!!! AMEN!!!! I take the word “IF” out of the Bible verse "see if there is any offensive way in me," when I pray that because I know there IS offense in me!

How much they challenge me to run after Christ instead of plotting my own way!

The day after this exchange, I opened my Inbox to find the following quote waiting for me. I smiled as I read it, thinking of my sisters, because they are three women who continually model the beauty of confession, repentance, and a desire to look less like themselves and more like Christ.
And because they do, I want to follow their example.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!" Psalm 139:23, 24
What a contrast there is between a man of this world - and a child of God! 
The one wishes to avoid the scrutiny of God - and the other desires and prays for it. 
The one loves sin, and cherishes it - the other abhors sin and desires to be delivered from it. 
The one walks hand in hand with iniquity - the other grieves that he bears with him a body of sin and death.
It is the earnest desire of all who are born of God, and made partakers of the Divine nature - to be delivered from the power of sin that dwells in them. They would have no lust spared - and no corruption unmortified. 
Chosen by the Father in eternity past, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and justified freely by His grace - they would also be sanctified by His Spirit.
- "Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872


A Scientific SURPRISE!

Best Science Supplement EVER!

We are studying ornithology this year, and during an internet search, I found a fantastic resource through the National Audubon Society.
The chapter in our area just happened to have an Owl Kit, so I reserved it right away.

I was expecting a shoebox of items and maybe a few books, so when we opened the cabinet to discover the many treasures we were entrusted to use, I was THRILLED!
Even better?
A two-week loan.
For FREE! πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌ

One of the items trumped all the others, however. A stuffed barn owl whom we have affectionately named Bradley.πŸ¦‰πŸ’™

If you are studying any flying, walking, hopping, swimming, or slithering creature for science - I HIGHLY recommend contacting your local Audobon chapter. 
Who knows what they might have waiting for you!


He keeps His promises.

"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward!" Job 5:7 

"How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble!" Job 14:1 

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous" Psalm 34:19 

Do not reckon that God will give you a life without difficulty! Tell me, if you can, of any child of His who ever had such a portion? He had one Son without sin - but no son without sorrow. No, that Son who had no sin, was the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. So you must expect the Lord to deal with you as He does with the rest of His household.

- Charles Spurgeon

I needed this quote today.
These past weeks have proven difficult.
Perspective says, "Be thankful! It could be worse."
And yet, the trials and sorrows of life still feel heavy and wearisome.
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
How grateful I am for a Father who makes - and keeps - such promises!


This and that.

It is RAINING! Real, steady, a-jacket-is-needed-to-go-outside kind of rain. And I am loving every single minute of it. We have been blessed with a damp and chilly season this year and it is both welcome and wanted in the Eastman home!

Our parents have kept a terrific tradition going with our children.
They gift them a new ornament each Christmas so when they move out they will have a whole collection of ornaments to decorate their own tree!
Some of the ornaments represent what the child was interested in the year they received it, and some are just for fun.
My grandparents started this tradition and I look forward to the time when Dennis and I can carry it on to the next generation.
Our kids always enjoy hanging their new ornaments on the tree!

Because of my goal to take 12,500 steps each day, we take walks. A LOT of walks.
I am finally up to six miles a day and Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie walk for four of those miles because wherever I go - they go!
One of our favorite routes is walking to town, and it is lovely right now because of the lights and decorations.
The BEST part? We live in a city that is not afraid or ashamed to place a nativity scene right in the center of town! "For unto you is born this day ... a SAVIOR who is Christ the Lord!"

If you are looking for a way to introduce your children to missionaries, this collection is fantastic!
I read them with the older boys, and now I am reading them with the littles. The vote is unanimous:
We ALL love these books!
Our routine is to read one chapter a day after Bible reading and prayer.
Though I know each of these saints has entered Paradise, I still cry every time we read of their deaths. Even in these abridged compilations, you are drawn in and fall in love with the missionaries. And they leave you wanting to know more.

After having studied so many wonderful saints, we were thrilled to be able to visit the graveside of one of our favorites. Corrie ten Boom.
If you have not treated yourself to The Hiding Place, please do! You will not regret it.
She is Dutch but moved to California toward the end of her life when the Lord began using the medium of television to share her story and the Gospel.
Her gravestone reads: Jesus is Victor.
And yes, I cried the second my eyes saw her name etched in stone, for she feels like a friend. I was introduced to her story as a teen, and have spent my life reading about her, listening to her interviews, quoting her, and praying I will be as faithful and bold as she should the need ever arise.
These are just a few of my favorite quotes by Corrie:
- Don’t bother to give God instructions, just report for duty.
- You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.

- God takes our sins – the past, present, and future, and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says NO FISHING ALLOWED.
- Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.
- Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.
- Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?

~~ Happy Wednesday, everyone!
I pray you are already finding JOY in the beauty of this Christmas season.
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” Luke 2


My favorite Eastman tradition!

This year, our Thanksgiving Eve of Thankfulness took place twelve days late,
but it was one of our best yet, so it was totally worth the wait! 

Each year we gather as a family, light candles, spend time writing down what we appreciate/enjoy/love about each other, and then read all of the comments out loud
so everyone can enjoy them. My favorite part is that all of this happens amidst much laughter!

I think one of the reasons I enjoy this tradition so much is because it levels the playing field
between the varying ages, stages, abilities, and personalities of our family.
Age two or ninety-two, words of praise are desirable and appreciated, and observing our children interact with the purpose of encouraging and building each other up is beautiful and satisfying.

Each year the entries become more thoughtful as our children grow and mature, yet fully maintain the character of each writer. We joke and jest while writing, while reading, and while listening, and all of us walk away feeling connected and content with our position in the family. ♥I LOVE it!♥

I pray the Lord will bless us with dozens more Thanksgiving Eve's of Thankfulness in the years to come, and even more, I pray the bonds that hold us together will strengthen as each year passes.


I love my family, and I will spend the rest of my days praising God for choosing us for each other.

Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, 
for His steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1


Cling to the Rock that never moves!

This morning found me fighting between Self and the Spirit as I nestled deeper into my warm bed, fighting the temptation to stay IN it rather than rousing myself to prepare for worship with the brethren. The combined busyness of daily life and caring for Dennis post-surgery these past ten days finally caught up with me, and my body literally ached to remain asleep and still. But my mind was fully alert and kept shouting, "Let's GO, sister! You can sleep when you're dead. This is the day the Lord has made, and today is a day for WORSHIP! Get moving!"
The Spirit won.
And what the Lord had waiting for me at church (through the faithful preaching of two godly men) was not only what I needed to hear, but what I wanted.
Praise God for leaving the Holy Spirit with us to guide us into all truth, for He knows far better than we what we need.

The message this morning was a perfect followup to Pastor Philip's Suffering message last week.

The title: God's Unchanging Faithfulness
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
The text: Lamentations 3:19-26
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mindand 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.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

- The Reality of Sorrow
- The Remembering of God
- The Response of the Believer

➛ Genuine sorrow in a believer must be tied to disciplined and biblical expressions of that sorrow.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
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.
Lamentations 3:19-23

Life is hard - loss of loved ones are real - trials exist - bodies and minds are broken.
Sorrow is REAL. Even so, we can be "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;" as the Scriptures model.
(II Corinthians 6:10)

➛ As believers, we must make a conscious, willful, intentional decision to turn our minds from our circumstances and focus our thoughts on the TRUTH of God's Word.
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 3:22-24

➛ Despair is the result of an undisciplined mind.
But this I call to mindand therefore I have hope: Lamentations 3:21
Jeremiah teaches us that we must be intentional and purposeful to REMEMBER who our God is, what He has done, and what He promises He will do.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise You. Psalm 63:3

As a father shows compassion to His children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. Psalm 103:3

➛ WAITING is the least favorite discipline of the Christian life, but it is a discipline, that if obeyed, yields blessings!
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25
... but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

➛ A quiet heart is a trusting heart.
A trusting heart is a strong heart.
Waiting on the Lord can be difficult, but it is always worth it!
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25, 26

WAIT on the Lord!
Do not write your own story.
Be still and wait until He tells you what is next and leads you where you need to go.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:4

God is our ROCK.
The Rock of all ages.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
So while you must wait, cling to the Rock with all your might.
For there - you are SAFE.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10