Expectation; The Invisible Sabotager of Our Joy

Have you ever been sitting somewhere, looking at something in the distance, somewhat glazed over in a daydream type of stare? When you catch yourself, you blink, you pull back your vision & realize in the path of the long gaze was something directly in front of you that your eyes almost intentionally blurred out. In the same stare everything changed in front of your eyes when you re-directed what & how you focused.

You can also have these moments with the spiritual eyes of life. The things that are most obviously in our face are often the things we look past our entire lives. One day a light goes off, we retract our view, and all of a sudden the blurry becomes crystal clear. The blinders fall…. and we get it.

I had one of these this morning. You see when you are churning through life missing something that you know you are not seeing, you change your prayers. When asking God to remove the thing or heal the thing that doesn’t seem to fade, heal or leave, I always realize there is no learning in the removal. So the past few weeks I have been begging God to change my view. What am I missing God? Why have I cried too often lately because I feel the joy & the moments fading; life re-shifting, time passing me with hurdling speeds & I cannot hold on tight enough; To the people, to time. The memories of joy I have planned just aren’t happening….why? And as soon as I said, “I expected so much…. from this last year we’re home before Chase leaves for college-from Grace’s OT healing-from more quality time together as family-from this ministry you’ve called me to” As soon as I said I expected, God snapped His fingers & reminded me in a flood of thoughts & scriptures & devotionals, yes you did & that’s your problem: YOUR EXPECTATIONS, not MY PLAN. 

When we wipe our eyes from the fog of expectations we’ll be free to accept things as they really are, with eyes of appreciation. God designed the journey as He planned, not as we think it should be. Every time we feel let down over an outcome, we lessen who we say God is & what He can do- We live as if our faith is a myth.

So 40 years old & I sit in my daddy’s 1980’s Sweet Home AL shirt, leggings, polka dot UA socks & dirty hair, in the most non expected arrival of the revelation of the Holy Spirit, God arrives to say, drop the expectations & scoop up the appreciation of every person & thing around you & let me do my job, the job you say you trust me with every morning. You say you give yourself, your marriage, your kids, your prayers, to me, but when I work my plan through these, you hang your head in disappointment; like it was ‘supposed’ to be different/better since you assumed the turnout on my behalf in advance. Do you want the holy & the joy only I can provide or do you think your list of ideas & outcomes are better than mine? Do you want me to perform to your life list or do you want to love & trust me so I can leave you awestruck in my ability & promise? When I was all you had, did I not give you miracles that even your daughter’s doctor’s can’t explain? Did I not use your family’s journey as one of the biggest births of testimony & ministry that still leaves you drop jawed? —He said to me

And with that, I found my Christmas gift. The gift of God that I get to unwrap every day. Today I give Him expectation & He starts to give me back my joy. Joy only found through appreciation….in ALL things & circumstances, not just the ones that feel good or that we ask for- layers peel & in that weird moment, I get it.

When my daughter is delivered from an OT fear only to replace it with another: appreciate. Appreciate the fact that God allowed that triple wrapped cord around her neck the night she was born 5wks early, not to give her brain damage. When her thyroid levels are off the charts & she can’t control herself: appreciate. Appreciate that when she laid cold & nude on the NICU team table & her heart stopped & her breathing stopped, that it wasn’t the bag the nurse pumped into her lungs that gave her life back, it was the Almighty who breathed the breath of Heaven into her, along with His plan: appreciate. When your Senior is offered 2 full tuition scholarships to major Universities where it’s extremely difficult to receive them, but may graduate top 11% not top 10% (like you expected) because he made mistakes Freshman year: appreciate. Appreciate that when you were a pregnant single momma, 22yrs old sitting on a couch after working a 15 hr shift at a Bbq restaurant in tiny Moulton, AL, that God spoke audibly to you for the 1st time in your life about the anointing that was coming for your baby son. This unfolding was part of the promise. Stop expecting. Stop being selfish. Appreciate. When other teens are having sex, drinking & smoking pot, but yours isn’t: appreciate. When teens are selfish, but yours works long hours after a heavy school day to save his money for college: appreciate. When your husband works layers of hours so you can be home to attend to the needs of the family for 4.5 yrs stop remembering the nice salary you walked away from: appreciate. When you look in the mirror stop looking at the younger version of the woman who should’ve known better than to treat you like she did, the one who abandoned you & start looking at the older version of your kids faces: appreciate. Appreciate a new legacy. Appreciate that God turned what could’ve been an extremely messy life for all 4 of us, into a message of extreme hope & fulfillment of what He says. EVERY word of God proves true— Doesn’t it though? {ie. Proverbs 30:5} 

I’ll leave you with a wonderful excerpt & reminder from my favorite advent devotional this morning:

Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift

Expectations can ride like highwaymen, ransacking joy, killing relationships. 

In the wilderness there are few roads, so Christ is the only Way. 

Rest here.

The wilderness offers you grace: we are most prepared for Christ when we are mostly not prepared.

Rest here.

There is only room in us when we are done with us.

You are unconditionally accepted & wanted because you merely know of Him:

you are related to Him by blood.

He comes for you in the wilderness. 

You are most prepared for Christmas when you are done trying to make your performance 

into His gift & instead revel in His presence as the gift.

You can feel it, even now.

Your Christmas becoming more.

Becoming miracle.

Ask Him today to take your secular tasks & turn them into something sacred.

Lay down your expectations for appreciation.

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*any bold emphasis above, mine

 

….when they aren’t sorry

My husband & I were talking last night about a particular kind of people. I brought those thoughts into today & wanted to share, because 10 out of 10 people I know, either have a line of these individuals in their lives or possibly you could be the actual group of offenders, so please reflect on that when you’re done reading this, if you would.

The group I’m speaking of is the kind of people who blatantly, attack you or your family, for no other reason than lack of self control. You take the response of silence. Forgiveness. You don’t retaliate, you don’t say/do/respond in the way you wish the good Lord & the police force would allow…..you do the ‘right thing’.

Their response? Self consumed rage. They allow self talk to continue to make an enemy out of you who, A. didn’t do anything to start with or cause the problem  B. you even kept your mouth shut (you have the indented teeth marks on the tongue to show)
They continue a cycle of gossip, whether audibly or in their thought lives. They decide you aren’t likable. Your walk with Christ is a joke. Your posts are bull. They can’t stand your kids….I mean they can’t even look at your life through the silly cannon of social networking without feeling rage or bitterness. And don’t get me started on the fury & inside judging if they do or ever do actually see or deal with you in person. So what do you think is wrong with someone who behaves like this? Why should you/we/I continue to eat poop off a spoon at their expense for a thing that isn’t even our faults? Why does the high road feel more like a valley?

Well…. I don’t have the answer for them in a nutshell because we all assume grown people should know better. But, I have the answer for you. It’s hard. It is something you have to drop at God’s feet more than a million times. It sucks. And it’s extremely unfair in the moral, fleshly view of things. But, once you realize in your soul that normal, happy, content people do NOT go around destroying the lives or character of others, then you can start to look at people who behave this way with sympathy. Only then can you start to pray routinely for them vs wanting to beat the stew out of them. (come on, you were all thinking it & feeling it, I just said it)

Slowly….trust me on the slowly part, achingly slowly- your heart will feel & churn a bit differently & you’ll see them for what they really are deep down inside….miserable, damaged, broken, alone, sad. And that’s truly, truly the saddest way to live. Neither you nor me should ever feel satisfaction when when we see these people spiraling out of control & eventually receive their discipline for the behavior they push out onto others. Without healing that day is coming for them because The Lord Your God Fights For You! Remember, at some point whatever created this in them, they didn’t deserve it either, but unlike you, they lost their way & their esteem somewhere in life.

I encourage you today to pray for them. As hard as that is, understand that hurting people hurt others. Continue to press into God. They may never change or want to change, but every prayer you deposit on their behalf peels layer after layer back of love & peace in your own life. It’s truly a blessing to watch storms swirl all around you & you remain standing in the eye of it all; unshaken. You may be hurt, you may feel anger, but you will find God will give replacement emotions almost instantly. Clench your hand in His. You may see only 1 set of footprints during those times of injustice, but that’s all you ever need.

If you are the hurting person who falls into the above description of sabotage to self & others, please know that just because people don’t advertise all of their battles openly, we’re all still fighting them. Maybe that person you’re throwing gasoline on, then lighting the proverbial match, just maybe THAT person could be the friend, the encouragement you need to get out of your pit. Maybe you’re blinded by their goodness because you crave that type of content life & have no idea how to wake up & obtain it. Apologize to them. Apologize to God. And go get yourself healed. How many more days will you live smothered & in chains, bound to things that have oppressed the wonderful person you really could & should be?

For who, besides me, needed to know::: we’re all in this thing together! Let’s pray each other up today. Be blessed y’all!

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Women’s Conference Invitation; Bama Bound

Ladies in the Russellville/TriCities area or close to the area, I put the link for purchasing tickets to the conference below. I hope that you will share the link & photo on your social pages & encourage your women’s groups, churches & unchurched friends to attend.
This event is not a denominational event, it’s not a church promotion event, we aren’t coming together to pressure you or cause you to feel uncomfortable or weird, especially if you are not a regular church goer. This is an event to bring ALL women, from ALL communities & backgrounds together to be encouraged, uplifted & inspired. You have a personal invite from me. I am unglued that I get to see & be with you. I promise you won’t leave the same way you arrived.
Please let me know if you or anyone you know cannot afford the ticket & scholarship arrangements will be made.
We have a testimony speaker in the morning, a fashion show & msg from a humanitarian org & leader Emily Fox from Forget the Frock, lunch, Dove winning artist Ellie Holcomb providing worship music, then me to close out the afternoon for you. We are going to have a blast! I’m praying for y’all in advance. Looking forward to God blowing the doors off!!

LIVE LINK FOR TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/into-the-light-tickets-14756829073

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