Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And They Just Keep Growing...

Our baby is 10 months old already. What has happened to the time? We are so blessed! I love every season of our children's life. It is so exciting to see them each grow and learn and I get to be a part of it all!  I feel so fortunate that I can rejoice with my oldest son as he learns what an adult life is like. I then get the honor of sharing with my teen daughter in all of her adventures. That is followed by the excitement of watching my two pre-teen daughters blossom into beautiful young ladies and my younger sons and daughter embrace the joy of learning about their world. What would life be like if we didn't have these blessings?  Boring to say the least!

I am asked weekly if "I'm done yet?". Why would I want to stop being blessed? Each of these children come with their own challenges and each one grows my character in a different way. God knows what He is doing as He graces us with these children. He knows what they need to grow them closer to Himself and what we parents need to rely on Him and become more like Him.

Each day is very busy and there are days that I am sure God can't know how ill equipped I am to do this job. But, without fail, I am reassured over and over again that God's ways are not my ways and my ways are not His. It is humbling to see Him work in our children in spite of our shortcomings. I praise Him for His grace and mercy!

Ready for the BIG question? Are we done yet? I pray not! Maybe you can join us in prayer for more blessings? Next time twins would be awesome! I have never had twins! Oh and please pray that we will bless God with each one of them too!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life is Swirly!

Life is amazing! One minute things are "normal" and the next moment your world can be turned all swirly.  Children can do that to you no matter how old they get. Good thing God is in control!

This last week I found out that I am going to be a grandma. First, I DO NOT look like a grandma! Second, I do not feel qualified for this position.  My oldest son and his finace are expecting. I have to admit that I was not thrilled with the order of things. Marriage before baby is always more desirable. But I can't help but be excited for a new baby. Babies are a blessing regardless of the circumstances and this one is my son's first born. My oldest son is an adult now; making his own desicions. Whether I like the desicions or not, they are his to make, and as an adult, I have to change my game plan in how I interact with him. I want to continue to have an influence in his life. I want the ability to speak Truth to him and be there for him and his family. I want him to hear me and come to me when he is in need.  I want to share in his joys and sorrows.

So as a believer, and his mother, I have a choice to make. I can freak out and lecture him about the poor choices he has made, I can tell him how God is not pleased with these choices, I can worry and fret over the pratical things that he is going to need to do to care for this tiny person and his fiance and I can make sure he never forgets that he is outside of God's will for his life. Or, I can share Truth with him while at the same time keeping the door open in order to show both sides of the God I serve. A God of judgement and rules as well as a God of unconditional love and forgiveness.

When I first answered the phone and he shared with me the news, I was disciplined enough to not speak right away (which proves that the Holy Spirit is real). I politely asked if I could have a minute and I put the phone down to pray and breathe. I asked God to stop my mind from being all swirly. I needed Him to help me to focus on what He wanted me to say to my precious son. My flesh wanted to lecture but my tongue was amazingly bridled at that point.  I was given the opportunity to share with him what he already knew. He has heard it many times growing up and even more since he has moved out; God will not bless him as long as he lives outside of His will. However, if he and his bride-to-be desire to redeem their relationship with God by starting to live in His will now, God will hear him and the slate will be wiped clean. What an awesome God we serve!

In a nut shell, our family's job is to be Jesus to our new daughter-in-law (to be), our new grandbaby as well as our son. Our prayers must cover them and our actions should reflect our prayers. We must trust that God is the One in control and that He will do what He must to bring our children into His will. I believe that our part in his plan is to speak Truth in love and pray without ceasing. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).

Is this the way I wanted to become a grandma? No. Am I angry that this is the way I have become a grandma? No. I trust my God to redeem this situation and grow my son's character as well as our family's character. My prayer is that this tiny little blessing will bring all of us to our knees and to the end of ourselves. I pray that this child's parents will learn, way faster than we did, that they can do nothing without Jesus Christ and that His ways are the best ways. Children have a way of doing that to us- they make our lives all swirly!

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-7

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weeks like These

It has been a long while since I have written last.  I have been doing life and it has been very BUSY.  Sometimes I am not sure how to do it all.  This has been my life for the last couple of weeks.  I have been feeling overwhelmed and very incapable.  Yesterday was a great example.

From the moment I woke up yesterday I was moving.  I had an infant who wanted to nurse, be fed "real food" 3-4 times that day, be held when not sleeping and slept less than usual.  While at the same time, the 2 and 4 year old wanted to do their "school" time with me as the two 4th graders needed my guidance with their lessons and the 9th grader required my focus for her dictation.  Oh- did I mention that I still had to make lunch, clean the house and dinner was in only 5 hours?  I really don't know how others do it and remain sane with educated children that actually graduate from high school.

My first thought was to run away but, I knew that no matter where I ran to - they would find me (they always do).  So, what did I do?  I would love to say that I prayed, got super Holy and was able to juggle it all with a smile on my face and a spring of joy in my step.  Reality?  I cried.  I left the room and I cried.  I did pray while I cried however, which helped me to return to the room and ask the kids to pray for me because I was having a hard day.  The major progress for me was that I did not "loose" it running yelling and screaming from the room.  You laugh but, shamefully, I have done that on more than one occasion.

With 7 children at home, 4 of them in school and the others wanting desperately to do school too, I am at a loss at times on how to make it all work.  Jesus does remind me moment by moment that I can't but He can. And that is all well and good but, I really want to handle this better.  I would like to take all this in stride.  I would like to have the confidence that all my children will excel in their studies and that they will be able to do more than graduate just knowing their three Rs.  I would like to believe my Savior when He tells me that He will bless my obedience and that He will make all things work in His favor.  During weeks like these, it is more difficult to rest in His promises.

As the old saying goes, "The proof is in the pudding".  As time goes by and my children grow and mature, that is when I will see the fruit from these crazy weeks.  These crazy weeks may go on and become crazy years but as long as I don't go crazy; as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, everything will be blessed.  I (and my children) will survive.  More than survive- we will thrive!  And I will someday juggle it all (well parts of it) with a smile on my face and a spring of joy in my step!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Prayer Changes Things

It's exciting to be struggling to get out of bed in the morning and have my two year old ask if we are going to pray. It means that our new routine of dragging our tired bodies out of bed and meeting in the living room to pray together and read the Proverb for the day has made an impression. My other children have made comments during the last two weeks as well. We have all noticed a difference in our attitudes, our abilities to get along with each other and our general well being. It is amazing to see the Spirit working in spite of all our fleshly desires and sinful nature. Believe me, my first thought when the alarm goes off (right now my alarm has a cute little curl on the top of his head) is NOT to jump out of bed and wrangle kids to the couch in order to pray. Whoever says God is not real does not live with us.

The Bible teaches us that prayer changes things; it changes hearts, situations, people and attitudes. I know that to be true because I have seen it first hand. My life is the result of prayer. I was prayed for daily by my paternal grandparents as well as other Believers devoted to prayer. As I look back, I can see where I was protected, guided, and finally drawn into a relationship with Christ. What a legacy those Saints have left!

It is a testimony to the power of God, as well as to His love for us, that prayer works. God has given those of us who have chosen Him as their Lord, a link to His supernatural power. We get the priviledge of being used as a part of His plan. I have always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself; to do a "great" work. Haven't you always wanted to make a difference? God is the One who put that desire in each of us.  And of course, He has equipped His people with the ability to make that difference through the power of prayer.

Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7  Did you see that promise? The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds WHEN we pray about everything with thanksgiving!  If we are willing to invest our time and give everything to Him, we will receive a 100% return guaranteed! I will take God as my investment advisor anytime!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Week- Homeschooling Down!

What a week! Brian has been working out of town for most of the week and we started our first week of school. It has been a tiring and busy process but, I feel good about our accomplishments.  And although our schedule looks better on paper than in real life, we have faithfully started each day with prayer, Bible Reading and our character traits study. So,we have focused on the important stuff all week. Another miracle? Everyone has been out of bed before 8:30am!

With 1- PreK, 1- 1st grader, 2- 4th graders and 1- 9th grader, I am a little frazzled at times but, that means it is NEVER boring!  We are starting with the basics this week and adding new subjects in the following weeks. So this week's schedule looked like this:
      8:00am wake-up with all gathered on couch for family prayer and Proverbs reading
      9:00am Breakfast
      10:00am Study of this week's trait- Gentleness, older ones do their Kay Arthur Bible Studies, all work on their AWANA
      11:00am Language Arts (Total Language Plus for the olders and Click n' Read/Spell for the 1st grader), Reason for Handwriting for everyone except the 9th grader
      12:00pm Lunch Break
      1:30pm Math (Teaching Textbooks for olders and Math-U-See for the 1st grader)
      1:30pm PreK Workbook from Costco
Next week we add History (Beautiful Feet- US History) and US Geography (Trail Guide to US Geography) and the week after that we add Science and Spanish and finally we start Piano lessons again for the older girls. That's the plan anyway.  Our days will get longer but I hope we will be in a rhythm by then and it won't get too crazy as the other subjects are added. We will see.
It is fun to watch the youngers learn just by hanging out while the olders work through their lessons. It makes my job way easier in the long run. The whole one room schoolhouse thing is alive and well here. My olders are great helpers and the little ones love being taught by their big sisters. I feel very blessed to be able to homeschool these awesome kids! I do have a few kids that are more challenging then others. However, this only adds to the reward when I see them finally "get it" or when they actually complete the lesson without me sitting right next to them the whole time.

In the evening, when they are in bed and I am grading papers, I get to reflect on the day and what we covered. I get to thank God that I am able to be here, right now, right at this moment, doing exactly what I am doing. I am so grateful. There are many times where I feel like I am not able to do this stuff; where I feel so "unqualified". I thank God for those moments however and I pray they continue because they keep me focused on Christ's ability and my inability without Him. I am reminded constantly that I can't but God can. God is so good. He will always be there guiding, teaching and encouraging me. Praise the Lord!

So, what will happen next week? I am not sure but, I do know that we will keep Christ as our focus and start our day off with Him every day. With His covering we can't go wrong!

PS- Next post I hope to have some pics of our homeschooling life (can you say LAUNDRY piles?) :)


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Avoid "Doing School"

I read an article in our state homeschool newsletter today that was very encouraging. It's a message I have heard many times over the years but, I am a forgetful human and need constant reminding of why I do what I do. Why do I homeschool? Why do I purposefully watch for "teachable" moments? Why do I look for opportunities to learn more about biblical model training, character building, mothering, "wifeing" (not a word but it works here- maybe) and growing disciples?

First of all, I do what I do because I love Jesus and I want Him to be proud of me. It's like any child with their parent or someone they admire and look up to I suppose. I desire to hear these words when I finally see my Lord face to face, "Well done my good and faithful servant...". Won't that be awesome! To have the King of the Universe, the Creator of all things say that He is proud of you? Wow!

The other reason I do what I do is that I want my children's strongest desire to be the same as mine. I want them to be able to say, without me involved, that their desire above all things is to know and love THEIR Jesus. Not mine, not because of my husband or myself, but because they know Him so well that they can't help but want to know Him more and more. Children that hunger and thirst for Jesus- now that's a legacy.

So, how do I (we) do that? Avoid "doing school". It's not about workbooks and finishing texts. It's not about making all the field trips and being a part of all the co-op or church activities. It's about doing whatever it takes to make Jesus and His Word as the foundation of our home. It's about being students in His Word ourselves and modeling that for our children. It's about loving Him with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. It's about developing a servant's perspective by becoming more and more like Christ and less and less like ourselves. What I love about this approach is that it puts everything into perspective for me. I must be Christ focused. It makes me a better teacher, mother, wife and Daughter of the King.

In the real world what does this look like for our family schooling? Well, our daily plan is that we come together before we are even all put together in the morning and pray that God uses the day for His glory. I say "plan" because this is a new thing for us and we are still in the process of making this a habit. The next thing we do is have Character and Bible/AWANA as our first topics of our school day. It helps us (and especially me) remember that He is the only good and perfect thing in our lives and should always be given the priority.

The next thing we want to do is to apply what we have learned. How do we do that? In our own families. The first character quality we are studying this year is gentleness. How can we show that to each other? What is the opposite of gentleness and what does that look like? Where do we find examples of this quality in Scripture? I am using a form of the 49 Operational Definitions of Character Qualities this year. I can't wait to see those light bulbs over our heads as we study these traits this year.

Finally, I hope you notice that I say "us" a lot while I am discussing schooling, home life, etc; because it is about us. It is a family experience not an individual pursuit at this point in our journey. Sure, we all must have an individual relationship with Jesus and that is our ultimate goal but, in order for our children to have that kind of supernatural relationship with Jesus they must have a foundation in the natural through their earthly relationships. God has given us as their parents that job. We must model the ups and downs of life and show our need for a Savior though it all. The good, the bad and the ugly.

My prayer is that our family will be that sweet aroma of sacrifice and well pleasing to our King. I know that is Christ's desire for us as well. What a blessing to have this great privilege! We get to teach our children about The One True God! We get to show them His creation and how it was made just for us! We get to avoid "doing school" and instead we get to LIVE school! We serve a great God! Amen? Amen!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Woman in the Mirror

This is an old post from my facebook page- I have included it here for my new readers...

“You stupid *****! You are worthless! Don’t you see how you are nothing?!? I am so sick of you! You just lay their and take it! What a piece of **** you are!” He grabs her by the hair. Slam! Her face hits the mirror full force.
“Look at yourself!” he screams. Her face hits the mirror over and over again.
This pathetic, miserable girl in the mirror; beaten, battered, bloody and bruised. She must agree with his assessment. He has got to be right, otherwise why doesn’t she do something to stop him. She is strong; she knows how to defend herself. Yet, she lets it happen night after night.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this- this was the man she was going to marry. She loved him; gave herself to him in every way possible! She just knew that she was going to live “happily ever after” with this man. Well, she means boy (he’s only 15)- and she is just a girl. A 14 year old girl, with a pipe dream in her head that a husband, kids and a white picket fence would make her happy. She would finally feel “right”, valued, and important. She’ll feel like she belonged on this planet. No more on the outside looking in.
That didn’t last long however. It always ended up like this – the screaming, the beatings. One time he tried to strangle her until someone happened to come by and stop him. He got tired of her too though- left her like she figured he would.
She finds herself looking in a mirror again. This time dead and empty eyes stare back, no more crying or pain- just nothing. The drugs dulled any pain she might have been feeling. Nothing going on here but intense rage. The kind of scary rage that everyone knows is like a time bomb- good. Keeps them distant- she likes that fine. She is in control now! Never again will she bow down and be that pathetic reflection from the early days.
She stumbles through time trying to fill the emptiness inside. She looks for that right man or right drug that will make her feel better. Can she only be 16? Maybe she will feel different if she leaves town?
She goes all the way to Florida but finally lands in Kansas? How did she end up here? Another man (this one old enough to be her father) but he promises it will be different here. A house, kids, the white picket fence? Maybe- the trip over here was exciting anyway! No, it was scary really! Odd though- someone she met in one of the states between Oregon and Kansas gave her a Bible. She read it- a lot. It gave her comfort, security. Don’t know why. She wasn’t raised very religious. All roads lead to the same impersonal god. Choose what works for you- there is no absolute truth. Right?
The mirror here is old and dingy. Her reflection is harder around the edges but not quite as bad. There have been no drugs for a while but something else is weird. She longs to go home and be with her Mom- to get out of this crazy other worldly life. She’s not sure how; she has been away too long. She hasn’t called or written her Mom in forever. Could she get back? She finds herself sobbing in front of that mirror again. Desperately she cries out to some unknown god to let her go home.
Soon she finds herself at her mother’s door. Dirty, afraid, empty and alone. Nothing makes sense! It is all so surreal! She walks into the house as though nothing has happened. “Hi Mom. I was hoping you could help me.” She looks down at the ground numb yet full of fear and shame. She has secrets she dreads to tell but must. She has found out that she is pregnant. But that can be "fixed" it is just a mass of tissue, right? It has been a tough few years, many tears, many fights but her Mom responds with cautious love. Good enough for her. Maybe she will be happy now.
Soon the drugs are a thing of the past. The reflection in the mirror is healthier and prettier now but just as empty and she cries just as much. Her tears are just in private now. She knows that if she could just find the right guy then “happily ever after” would be hers. She falls hard in love and feels sure that this time it is right. She is 17; he is 37. The off again - on again games continue for almost 3 years. He doesn’t want to get married. He never wants kids!
Wait- here comes someone else – he wants kids and to get married! She better jump on this fast. She looks in the mirror again- how beautiful she is. The dress and veil- the horse and carriage waiting to take her to “happily ever after”! What a storybook wedding! Everything was planned perfectly. Everything looked as though it was meant to be! Her mirror sees something strange though. It is not so clear, she sees a hint of something in her eye- could that be a tear again? No just makeup, right? This is supposed to be the happiest day of her life!
Within a few months her mirror sees a belly expanding. The baby is coming and this time she really “feels” happy! This baby will make this dreadful marriage better. This baby will make her happy. Finally, she will be valued, important and special to someone. It’s going to be great! And it was for a very short time.
Soon, her reflection was of herself and a tiny person. At 21, she was needed by someone. He did make her feel special but not quite full. It was just the two of them now. She definitely had purpose, direction and focus. But, she still was not happy. She had to do what was necessary to raise this little guy alone. Her mom would help but she was the one responsible for this precious bundle - her alone! That was fine- they would make it on their own. She didn’t need anybody else. She would be fine without anyone or anything else involved in their lives. She made it through college! She seems to have it together for now.
What is this new mirror she sees? This one shows a new husband and after a while another baby. Where is that white picket fence? This should bring “happily ever after” right? No. More tears, more pain, more yelling. When will she be happy? Why is this happening?
Then just like the stranger between Oregon and Kansas, a lifeline suddenly appeared. A new church down the street invites her to attend. It seems an odd fit but her children like it there. Things seem better. She likes how she feels as she becomes more and more involved in the church leadership. Accepting Christ as her Savior was easy! Little by little, God becomes more real. She starts to see that it is a miracle that she is without disease, not in prison or dead. She begins to see a reflection in the mirror that is less offensive and a little more responsive to a calling from Above. Her marriage is not as miserable but certainly not “happily ever after”. Has it only been ten years? It feels like forever. Didn’t they say that with Christ life is happy? This road is a long one- a road that seems to never end! Where is the hope? Where is the happiness? Where is the peace? It is a hard road- the road less traveled she figures. This life is way better then her old one. She just figured there would be more.
Then God forces her to look into a different kind of mirror. This mirror reflects Truth. This reflection requires her to die to self and to live for Christ. This new church she is attending is teaching her concepts she has never heard before. For nine years, she has led ministry elsewhere. She has attended tons of leadership conferences and has heard hundreds of church sermons. Her best friend was her pastor’s wife! But she hasn’t heard anything like this stuff. Daily disciplines, corporate prayer, serving her family first, allowing her husband to lead? They are such simple principles and yet so difficult to live them out. Can this be the “happily ever after”?

Her mirror today shows some amazing changes. She can see her gray hair, her little laugh lines and all those stretch marks. It reflects seven beautiful blessings (so far) and each one has changed her for the better. Yes, the mirror does show the hard knocks and some rebellion. But it also shows softness, peacefulness, a security that can not be compared to anything else. It shows an obedient heart that desires to turn from the flesh to face the Truth. It shows forgiveness and repentance. It shows a woman that has broken every one of the Ten Commandments but who is saved from eternal damnation regardless of her past. It shows one who has been set free from her sin by the One who died and rose again!
The woman in the mirror is me, Kristin Mary Easton. Who am I? In Christ, I am forgiven, freed and saved by grace. I am a child of The Most High! I am a woman who deserves nothing and yet has received a Healer, Redeemer and Savior. I am going to live “happily ever after” forever! I am going to Heaven! The Lord gets all the honor, praise and glory! He saved me in spite of myself. By his stripes I am healed! Amen! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So the School Days Begin...

I really love homeschooling - before we actually start. The planning and getting everything organized. The buying of the needed curriculum and researching the best "fit" for each child. Our year looks very academic and engaging! But then...  was that something shiny outside? No? OK. Anyway, where was I?

Exactly! Let's just say that I am easily distracted and get bored rather quickly. My kids know this too and the olders tend to use it against me. I can hear them now... "Mom, this handwriting is boring can we change it up today and go to the park or something? We can finish it tomorrow." (Big smile, wink, wink). Do I do what every "good" mom/teacher does and redirect the child by helping them see the "joys" of handwriting practice? Do I share with them that it really does matter if others can read their writing (even if they are a doctor)? Sometimes. But most of the time- I am rounding up the kids and we are GONE! Cuz, it was boring and we can do it tomorrow.

Self-discipline is one of my downfalls. I have it when I really need it. Before I met Brian it was just Nate and I and I was working part-time and going to school full-time. I managed to graduate with honors and be promoted at work but that was different. I was under pressure from an outside source. Being accountable to someone else is the key for me. God knows that too so, he has put certain people in my life that help me get back on track. PTL! I am so grateful for them.

God also has made two of my olders very disciplined and they must have a schedule in order to operate. That forces me to be scheduled regardless of how I feel. A good friend always said, "You don't have to act how you feel. You are free in Jesus Christ." So true in every area of my life.

So as this school year starts (next week I might add), I will try to NOT act how I feel and pray that Jesus will be at the helm. He's a better captain then I am anyway. I can do all things through Him who stengthens me! Even school... 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I am Blessed Indeed!

It's been awhile since I have had the time to sit and write. I'm  not sure I really should be now- as I write, my youngest daughter Makayla is tormenting her older brother Josiah by trying to kiss him. As "punishment" Josiah is daring her to kiss the floor, chair and bouncy horse. Watching them play is always a laugh. To Brian's relief, Josiah is old enough to resist the girls during "dress-up" and he now refuses to wear the princess outfit (unless he wants to get a rise out of his Dad). I can hear Ezekiel (the 2 year old) squealing with delight in the bathroom; he has gone poopy all by himself! OK- "BRIAN, will you help him with that?" The blessings of two parents! I am blessed indeed!

Life is always exciting around here. I have two boxes of bandaids; one for the "I HAVE to have a bandaid- it huuuuuurts!", and one for the real bandaid needs hidden in the back of the closet. I think I should buy stock in Arnica for the bumps and bruises and we always keep several frozen "boo-boos" on hand at all times for those numerous owies. There are so many noises it is impossible to describe but my favorite is the laughter that rings through the house more often then not and the sound of my family's prayers at prayer time and throughout the day. I am blessed indeed!

I am often asked how we do it. How we live in unity in such a small house; how we love each other through the ups and downs; how we home school with babies and toddlers and life etc...  Well, the only answer is JESUS and our reliance on Him. We are constantly refocusing on Him as the One who gives us all we need and teaches us to be all we need to be for each other and for our Lord. We serve Him - not each other. We love Him first - not each other. There is no magic answer and yes we fail often but, our God forgives us and renews each moment with His grace. This house is full of sinners working their relationship with their Creator out in full view of each other. That is what is lovely about family- chaos and all. I am blessed indeed!

Just so you don't get any high notions of perfection here- I have been writing this off and on for 2 days and have had to stop too many times to count. Most of the time to nurse but also to train, love on and pray with my brood. Thank Lord for ALL your blessings. Would I be crazy to pray for some more? I am blessed indeed!