8.29.2019

Thankful and BLESSED because he is here!

One month has passed since we brought Baby E home, and within the first three days, we were in
love!
Dennis and I awaken each morning to his giant smile beaming at us from across the room as he eagerly awaits being picked up and cuddled. And within minutes, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie file in and take turns greeting him, hugging him, and making him laugh. He is a rock star in the Eastman home - and he loves EVERY minute of it!

Baby E is happy, enthusiastic, active, affectionate, and continually rewards us with incredible smiles and wonderful hugs. He is the first person Caleb seeks out when he returns home, and Micah and Luke are quick to pick him up or laugh when greeted with his signature "Iron Man" move and "What's Up?" head nod. He brings joy to every Eastman and instantly draws out of our affectionate nature. The vote is unanimous! We all adore Baby E! ♥

I receive a double portion of joy because I have the privilege of spending eight hours with his mom - every week! Eight hours of watching her engage with her son. Eight hours of watching him respond to his mom. Talking, laughing, singing songs, reading books, playing games, eating, peek-a-boo, rocking together while he drinks his bottle, hugging and kissing each other. She can make him laugh so hard his smile is ready to crack his face in two. And I enjoy every.single.moment. Not only am I granted the delight of witnessing sweet exchanges between mother and son, but the Lord has also created a comfort and a trust between us. We greet each other with smiles and hugs, her son practically leaps out of my arms to get to her, and we enjoy conversation and laughter during our visits. How precious it is to be invited into the life and heart of another!

We don't know how long Baby E will be a part of our family, but we are thankful he is here now. ❤

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Each time I pick up a child to join our family until he/she can return home, the Lord attaches a song to our meeting. The reason is not always obvious to me in the beginning but becomes as clear as crystal as the days roll on. Since music ministers to me in a unique way, I am continually thankful that the Lord chooses this medium to encourage me and draw my thoughts, emotions, and affections toward Him ... especially when they have been tempted to look elsewhere.

Only You - David Crowder
Take my heart, I lay it down
At the feet of You whose crowned
Take my life, I'm letting go
I lift it up to You who's throned
And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You Lord
Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I'm leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be all my delights, be my everything
And it's just You and me here now
Only You and me here now
You should see the view
When it's only You

8.27.2019

Seeking Him in the stillness.


 Sorrow and suffering ... there is no shortage.
Nor will there ever be this side of heaven.

Broken relationships.
Financial hardships.
Job difficulties.
Health struggles.
Strained marriages.
Wayward children.
Anniversaries of losses.
Rejection.
Goodbyes.

There are many ways to cope.
Many places to seek comfort.
But there is only One who can bear our burdens and heal our hurts with sovereign sufficiency.
May we seek Him in the stillness.
While He may still be found.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Psalm 37:7

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
Exodus 14:14

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

But I have calmed and quieted my soul ... like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
Psalm 62:5-6

8.26.2019

He knows. And He provides.


One of my favorite things about the Lord is His constant faithfulness in providing timely and fitting words of encouragement for His children. Even more precious, He prepares them before we are aware we need them!
We cannot anticipate the trials of life, but the Lord is never surprised. And He knows exactly what will bring us the most comfort in our moments of crisis. A handwritten note in the mail with the "perfect verse." A call from a friend. A sermon. A worship song. A tight hug from our strongest sister. A quote. An unexpected gift. A prayer lifted on our behalf.
Our God is faithful.
Our God is timely.
Our God is aware.
He meets us where we are, and provides what we need, just when we need it most.
Because He loves us.

He anticipated my need this very morning, using the words of a godly man who has enjoyed the splendors of heaven for almost a century, yet still affects, encourages, and challenges believers today.
I pray his words will encourage others as greatly as they encouraged me.

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Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you. John 14:27

There are times when our peace is based upon ignorance, but when we awaken to the facts of life, inner peace is impossible unless it is received from Jesus. When Our Lord speaks peace, He makes peace, His words are ever “spirit and life.” Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “My peace I give unto you” — it is a peace which comes from looking into His face and realizing His undisturbedness.

Are you painfully disturbed just now, distracted by the waves and billows of God’s providential permission, and having, as it were, turned over the boulders of your belief, are you still finding no well of peace or joy or comfort; is all barren? Then look up and receive the undisturbedness of the Lord Jesus. Reflected peace is proof that you are right with God because you are at liberty to turn your mind to Him. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. If you allow anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you, you are either disturbed or you have a false security.

Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing and receiving from Him peace? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you obliterate Him and deserve all you get. We get disturbed because we have not been considering Him. When one confers with Jesus Christ the perplexity goes, because He has no perplexity, and our only concern is to abide in Him. Lay it all out before Him, and in the face of difficulty, bereavement and sorrow, hear Him say — “Let not your heart be troubled.”

- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Thank You, Father, for knowing what we need before we ask, and for being a God who does not hold us at arm's length, but invites us into a loving, safe, merciful, and compassionate relationship. You do not just offer the peace we crave. You ARE peace. And You are all we need.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

8.25.2019

Happy Birthday, Josiah!


12 YEARS!
The Lord has given you twelve years of LIFE!
And your life has been a blessing to our family. ♥

You are ...
incredibly affectionate
thoughtful
a servant
interested in others
curious
independent
compassionate to those who are hurting
a seeker of joy
a faithful friend
an encourager
a seeker of justice
a seeker of truth
... and we appreciate and rejoice that you possess these character qualities!

You have been a thoughtful observer since you were a toddler. You did not speak, but you took in everything going on around you with great interest. I often wondered what you were thinking and looked forward to the day when you would be able to tell me - and now you can. And do!
I love your curiosity about the world and the people around you, Josiah. I encourage you, in your observations, be sure to look at yourself first and measure what you see against the standards of Scripture. It is easy to look at everyone else, making assessments and pronouncing judgments while never searching your own heart to discover and confess your personal weaknesses and sin.
Search me, 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 way everlasting. Psalm 139:23, 24
When you search your own heart daily and let the Lord take care of everyone else, you will find great joy in the freedom that comes from possessing a correct biblical view of self, and who you are in Christ, which then creates a proper and biblical view of others.

You are valuable, Josiah Timothy.
You are worthy of love.
What you can or cannot do does not define who you are.
Who appreciates you or rejects you does not define your worth.
Christ does.
You surrendered your life to Him when you were a little boy, and you will spend the rest of your life in continual surrender to Him when you choose to die to self and submit to your Savior.
It is not easy, death to self. We want our way, and we want it now.
BUT GOD.
He says, "Take up your cross daily and follow ME. For I am the way, the truth, and the life. And I came to give you life ABUNDANT. Feed on My Word, drink from My well of living water. Do not lean on your own ways or your own intelligence, but lean wholly on Me. I know what you need before you even ask, and I know how to bear your burdens and give you the rest you need when you are weary. I am the vine and you are the branches. Abide in Me, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

I pray you will always, always, want to follow Christ, Josiah.
I pray you will be willing to fearlessly stand up for truth.
I pray you will give a voice to the voiceless and protect the innocent.
I pray you will notice those who are forgotten and neglected - and show them kindness.
The Lord has given you twelve years of life, Josiah, not for your glory, but for His.
Make your life count.
Do something that matters.
Invest your time and energy in eternal pursuits.
Encourage the disheartened.
Comfort the brokenhearted.
Urge your brothers and sisters to seek after and love God more.

You were named after a boy king who turned a rebellious people back to their God.
Your name means "God saves, God heals, God supports."
Follow in the king's footsteps, son ...
encouraging others to turn their eyes heavenward, seeking the Savior while He may still be found.

Happy 12th birthday!
♥ You are precious, Josiah Timothy Eastman, and I love you. ♥

8.19.2019

Praising in pain. Too late.

Today I am giving thanks for - STREP THROAT!
I have been down for weeks, seeing a shimmer of light break through the darkness every few days, and then BAM. Down again.
Finally, after yet another night of little sleep and the inability to swallow, I made a visit to my delightful doctor, begging her to tell me
a) "You have a head cold. Suck it up and ride it out, sister!" or b) "You need a throat transplant."
I do not need a new throat, but after 24 hours have passed, mine will no longer be causing me agony.
Perspective matters.
I know there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of people walking through far more severe physical trials. My pains and fever and sleep deprivation may not be pleasant, but they could be far worse. 
I am thankful they are not.
I sauntered out of the doctor's office with Baby E in my arms and Ellie in tow, smiling and praising God that the reason for my illness was finally revealed, and would now be remedied.
But I also had to confess my ungratefulness, for I have been frustrated with the duration and unknown details of the malady, and impatient with the healing process.
After my saunter turned into sitting as I held the wheel of the Thunder Bus, two verses rang loudly in my ears:
"Do EVERYthing without complaining or arguing," Philippians 2:14
"In EVERYthing give thanks," I Thessalonians 5:18
"I hear You, Lord. Forgive me for refusing to praise You in the valley, and thank You, for strep throat."

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19, 20

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

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! Psalm 100:4

8.18.2019

Dennis reunites with the country of Jordan!


Dennis was graciously invited to return to the country of Jordan to teach, train, and encourage educators, politicians, and royalty about the vital need to not only include students with special needs and learning needs in the classroom but to receive them with JOY. He spent weeks preparing and praying, trusting the Lord would guide the details of his presentations, his breakout activities, and his ability to encourage and support those who serve these students every day - and - those who have the power to affect lasting change.

When he arrived in Jordan, I asked him to describe the "what" and the "why" of his trip.
This was his response:
"The "what" is to assist in equipping teachers to serve ALL learners in the general education classroom. The "why" is found in Matthew 11:28-30 and Proverbs 31:8-9. 
'Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.' (Matthew 11)
'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.' (Proverbs 31)

This school is among one of the few Christian schools in the country that is actively pursuing inclusive education for all students. As a result, by God's grace, they have been able to boldly share Christ to those who come in the door and tearfully and gratefully ask, "What motivates you to do this for these children?" 
Being in the midst of this harvest is not only inspiring but incredibly humbling. This group deflects praise to themselves and directs it to God. They are on the front lines everyday exercising their faith and loving on kids. The result? People coming to ask, "Why???"
Because God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, and He loves us and lives in us. That's why."

I LOVE this!

I also asked Dennis to send a description of his presentations. After reading them, I smiled. This is what my husband was made to do. Teach, encourage, and inspire! And he does it WELL! ♥

“I have the right to learn!” Looking Beyond Challenges into Strengths & Talents
The intended goal of every educator is student learning. However, without planning, teaching becomes like a long road trip minus a map, where one or two wrong turns can mean the difference between arriving at your destination or an unintended off-road experience. A crucial element in creating an effective learning experience must begin with knowing and planning for the students who will be in your class. This seminar will explore some of the key elements the instructor can do to prepare to teach ALL learners.

Mindful & Social Emotional Learning Strategies in the Inclusive Classroom
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (CASEL.org). This interactive workshop will provide instructors with practical skills to effectively assist students in problem-solving, managing emotions, and communication. 

Foundational Practices and Strategies in the Inclusive Classroom
Best practices are consistently student-centered, cognitively appropriate, interactive, and are intentionally planned to serve all students well. This workshop is designed to reinforce foundational practices with interactive strategies that are essential to meeting the needs of all learners.

Made to Move: Strategies to Assist Students with ADHD
This seminar will equip educators to identify areas of student strength and share practical tools to assist students with ADHD with readily identified behavior issues and academic areas such as memory deficits, organization, and self-management.

Classroom Management - Refocusing on What Motivates Behavior: Peeling back the multiple layers of misbehavior in the classroom to cultivate an effective learning environment.
From time to time, many educators find themselves in a classroom where management appears impossible. Disruptions and relational dynamics seem to clash with good pedagogy and great intentions. This seminar will discuss student emotion, motivation and behavior, and tips for succeeding in the challenging classroom environment.

"Is this on the test?" Practical Strategies for Formal and Informal Assessment
Each day a student sits in class they have the potential to communicate a message to the instructor about their level of interest, distraction, or frustration. They also display their capacity for time on task, willingness to participate, and comprehension of the material being presented. To determine the effectiveness of instruction it is essential to measure student-learning outcomes. There are numerous means in which to collect evaluation data, however, it is important to note that multiple measures should be considered rather than a “one size fits all” strategy. This seminar will offer a variety of formal and informal techniques to check for student understanding.

The Power of Self-Reflection
How do you know your lesson was effective? Are the strategies you are using meeting the needs of students? Were the students engaged in the lesson?
Improvement begins with identifying and addressing the areas in which you are in need of growth. Self-reflection provides an opportunity to evaluate your performance in a timely manner to maximize your ability to serve all students. This seminar will introduce ways in which a teacher can practically improve performance within their grade level or subject area to more practically impact the lives of students. 

8.14.2019

Encouraged by a small, wrapped package.

Yesterday, after asking two dear friends to pray for us as we walk through a trying time of sickness
and struggles, one of them surprised and blessed our family when she delivered a hot, delicious dinner to our door. Since most of my family members inhale food rather than chew it, the food was consumed immediately - and enjoyed thoroughly!
Amid the chaos of dinner, bath time for Baby E, and preparing for the next day, a small wrapped package was overlooked. But in a quiet moment it was discovered, opened, and the contents revealed.
A gift! For me!
What FUN!
Three bracelets were wrapped around a tiny pillow, with a phrase etched into each piece.
I smiled when I read the words because not only did they reflect the heart of the woman who gave them to me, they were fitting encouragements for this season of my life. I read the words over and over, and while doing so, Scripture verses began floating through my mind.
This afternoon, I was finally able to link the words on the bracelets with God's words, and the process was a delight!

● MAKE every day COUNT 
Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

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

● FIERCE MIND 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

● BRAVE SPIRIT 
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

● YOU GOT THIS 
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Thank You, Lord, for knowing what we need before we even ask. Thank You for putting our names on the hearts of our brothers and sisters so we can be encouraged and stirred up to love and good deeds because of their acts of kindness. Thank You for filling Your Word with truth so we may be strengthened by those truths when we do not feel strong. Thank You for giving man the ability to create beauty in the form of art so we can be refreshed by such beauty, mind, body, and spirit. Thank You for giving us the courage to say, "I need you," even though our pride says, "I'm fine." Thank You for giving man the ability to express thoughts so others can benefit from the timely and fitting words. And thank You, Lord,  for being a God who desires to give good things to His children, including things that come in small, wrapped packages.♥

8.05.2019

Orion!




Every time I look at these comparison photos of Orion’s size,
I am sooooo thankful that humans to do not grow at the same rate as canines.
Can you IMAGINE?!?
😜😂🤣😆😁
Every three months he seems to triple in size.
As does our affection for him.💙

We cannot WAIT to see Orion’s final stats when he is fully grown!

8.01.2019

Excellent (and much needed) encouragement!

As a wise, skilled pharmacist mixes medicine - so our heavenly Father wisely mixes exactly the right measure of bitter things and sweet, to do us good.

Too much joy would intoxicate us.
Too much misery would drive us to despair.

Too much sorrow would crush us.
Too much suffering would break our spirits.

Too much pleasure would ruin us.
Too much defeat would discourage us.

Too much success would puff us up.
Too much failure would keep us from doing anything.

Too much criticism would harden us.
Too much praise would exalt us.

Our great God knows exactly what we need.

His Providence is wisely designed and sovereignly sent for our good!

Let God send and do whatever He wills - by His grace, if we are His, we will face it, bow to it, accept it, and give thanks for it. God's Providence is always executed in the 'wisest manner' possible. We are often unable to see and understand the reasons and causes for specific events in our lives, in the lives of others, or in the history of the world. But our lack of understanding does not prevent us from believing God.

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

- Don Fortner