what do you expect

Expectations.

Years ago it was shared with me that I hadn’t been present for someone I love in their time of need. At the time, my life was an absolute disaster, but they were also facing a challenge and whenever I thought of them, or prayed for them, I would just a quick text to check in. Months later, when it was revealed that my efforts to share their journey were not appreciated as having been desired, I felt crushed that I hadn’t been enough for them. And, angry because at the time I was really isolated and had made the distinct decision to be present as much as I was able.

Walking in desert seasons, or facing crisis, we are often gifted with the opportunity to see just how loved and valued we are. Over the years, I have had some extraordinarily faithful friends call, text, stop by, offer help, and most importantly, pray over me. Doing life together is not easy these days with whirlwind lifestyles and tugs in every direction. Sometimes just a text saying, “hey, I am thinking about you,” can make a world of difference.

It is easy to place expectations on others; to anticipate that someone would know you well enough to know what you want/need at any given moment, AND, such expectations can often set everyone up for failure. When we seek validation in a form that another is not quick to communicate in, or is presently unable to muster, we ourselves become disillusioned and the other person fails at being the encourager they long to be. Perhaps, one of my greatest life lessons being in relationship with my polar opposite, is being able to recognize how others love and release them from what I want, thereby receiving what they are actually trying to give.

There is a great freedom that comes with embracing even the smallest of gestures as the greatest of intention.

Heading into 2018, consider releasing others from expectation. Love freely and allow others to do the same. Embrace that quick email or tag on a silly meme – for in these small gestures, we can know that we are in the thoughts of those who love us.

 

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hands and feet – the comparison game

It is easy to look around at the accomplishments or accolades of those around us and feel as though we have missed the mark. Perhaps you don’t do this, but I often observe my peers (via proximity or similar age) and can be challenged by what I perceive to be success that has exceeded my own. Days when I am weary, it can become a stumbling block for my vision, and my faith.

It is important to seek revelation of who WE are called and designed to be.

1 Corinthians 12 tells us that we are each one uniquely crafted and placed – in our homes, our churches, our workplace and relationships – every one with their own contribution, not one more important than other.

“And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I don’t need you;  the head can’t say to the feet, I have no need of you. And some of the parts that seem the weakest and the least important, are really the most necessary.” (1 Cor 12:21-22)

I have spent years, precious energy, and tears, chasing after and longing for, things never intended for me. The pursuit of that which is outside of our purpose is expensive, and ultimately bankrupts our souls – not because God is unfaithful to fulfill those things which we have been called to, but because we don’t yet have the revelation that it is not His best for us. God loves us far too much to help us succeed in an area that does not serve us, or those around us, to its greatest capacity.

This past year my word has been “metamorphosis,” and it has been the cry of my heart to be open to whatever changing is required within me to move me in the direction of my destiny. Letting go of expectations, intentions, habits and even value systems has been a journey of epic, and sometimes, painful, proportions. However, as we head into 2018, I am excited for what is to come as I am learning the intrinsic value of rest, being true to self, and walking within the parameters designed just for me by the God who created my heart.

Today I would encourage you all to reflect on the goodness of God this past year – the lessons, the breakthroughs, the areas of loss, and of gain – and be prepared to head into the next just a little more equipped for what is to come.

You already have within you, all the things you need to become the best and brightest version of yourself.

 

 

parenting.

Christian parenting is an interesting journey, possibly more so today than even the early days of Babylon or ancient Greece. The biblical values that many of us hold so dear are not only invalidated by popular culture; they are outright mocked as outdated, inconsequential and sometimes even shouted down as evil.

As a result, many of those who consider themselves to be of the Christian faith can falter. Some resort to a more harsh and Old Testament/pre-Jesus positioning, resulting in legalism that quenches the Holy Spirit and damages the soul, while others subscribe to a more hands off perspective, operating under the false belief/hope that God’s grace in and of itself will help a child to make solid decisions as they grow. Neither is effective in the short, or long game, and both extremes create not only a gap for our children, but in our own spiritual growth as well.

When we choose to follow Christ and give our lives over to the process of being renewed in Him, our children often bring to light those things which God is doing both in them, and in us. To be fully obedient to the process means to actively seek godly wisdom and counsel in all things, and, to be willing to receive correction from our Heavenly Father, even as we lovingly correct our precious littles.

I have often told my children that as they learn to obey my words, to buy into our family community, and trust the safety that I provide for them, subsequently they will one day trust our God’s provision. Even, when they can’t fully comprehend the “why.” The covering we offer in their childhood, will translate into their adulthood, as they realize that God is also guiding and protecting them.

Just as marriage is a model for the love between the church and our God, so is parenting a model for our more intimate relationship with the Father.

My kids have taught me so very much about my own weaknesses, and of my strengths. We grow together in our mistakes, celebrate our successes, and learn together the value of a walk with one another. And in Him. It is not always easy to be an effective, hands-on, humble and actively engaged parent, but it is always worthy of the effort – what we sow we will also reap.

While there is no perfect, we are always being perfected. Settle in and enjoy the journey of parenthood – the Bible says children are our inheritance. Our responsibility to our children is our primary ministry above any other endeavor. Seek His plan for you and your kids and do not be discouraged or moved by those who might question or judge your decisions for your family. And, be diligent in your pursuit of that which He has put before you. There is no greater challenge, or reward, than the honor of raising up the next generation.

Many blessings on your journey.

Train up your children in the way that they should go and when they grow old, they will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

buying the lies.

I recently posted on my Facebook page about the challenges of raising kids up in our culture. It is something so heavy on my heart that I literally wept over the brokenness, and was compelled to stop what I was doing in order to sit my 8 and 12 year old children down for a heart to heart.

Someone I have known for many years decided to call me out, on my page, for “pretending” to care about the issue because of my spouse’s political point of view. Not mine, his. When I kindly responded that I would not choose to politicize that which hurts hearts on all sides of the issue, the barrage continued. After deleting the thread which was originally intended to be uplifting and encouraging to fellow parents, the dialogue continued via private message.

Subsequently, she decided she cannot remain friends with someone who walks in such perceived hypocrisy.

The most challenging part, and my main point in sharing, is that twice I offered that some of my political views differ from my husband’s and that if she would like to ask me how I personally feel, I would be more than happy to have some dialogue. Honestly, were she to have respected me enough to ask, we may have even discovered being on the exact same page.

Unfortunately, our culture does not believe in asking questions. At least not heart questions.

Thanks to our penchant for us-vs-them absolutes, drama-ridden relationships, and thirst for hate-fostered reality shows, we now have two generations of humans who somehow find more value in dissent and accusation;  elevating our own points of view above all else…

Above one another. Above mutual respect. Above authentic dialogue, critical thought and, (gasp!), even common courtesy. Obliterated by a thick layer of self righteousness is the ever-dimming light of humanity. Veiled under the quise of free speech, we have now come to the overarching belief that we are each our own god, and our personal beliefs are not only truth, but gospel. Any disagreement, or even curious questioning, is grounds for vile retribution.

And, we’ve bought the lie that to disagree or be different means there can be no common ground.

I’ll be honest, the truth that someone believes these untruths about me does sting. I won’t lie. And yet more and more I am learning the deep value of relationship with the remnant of people who still believe in grace over all, possess a deep faith in God and humanity, and choose life over vile words of condemnation and death. At the end, all we have is one another.

Love well.

matt. lauer.

Floundering in revelatory wave after wave of sexual misconduct by some of culture’s most revered men, the dialogue seems strangely quiet given the implications of what is actually being revealed.

Years after the sexual revolution, it would appear that we are possibly nearer the dark ages than we have ever been when it comes to the honor and respect women deserve. The bearer of children, champions of marriage and prevailing culture, nurturer of our warrior men and definers of atmosphere are still, and more prevalently, being treated as objects of lust and cheap imitations above the authentic relationships in our own beds.

More today than yesterday (or possibly proportionally the same as in ancient Greek times), many married men still prefer pursuit of casual, throw away sexual contact and conversation above the honor and intimacy with those to whom they have promised to cover, protect and fight for.

Several years ago my therapist shared with me that he didn’t believe in addictions, but rather in distractions. To define something as an addiction is to imply an inability to overcome it – to prophecy a lifelong battle with the darkness from within. It was a large paradigm shift for me, and while I am quite clear on the chemical changes that can cause a physiological dependency on a drug or alcohol, I also see that even the initial indulgence stems from the human brain’s perceived need to have a fix. A distraction from the daily reality of life.

Be it tv, social media, sex, porn, drugs, alcohol, overworking, or… we all have a bent towards trying to find that thing that makes us feel complete. In control. Out of control. Safe. Free.

Whole.

The older I get, the more children I train up, the longer I am married… the more I realize the beauty in what each gender brings to their relationships. The subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, differences between all of us, coupled with our own unique personality traits, is what each of us in community actually needs in order to fulfill our own, and one another’s, call and purpose. To choose to exploit or devalue another human is not only an expression of personal depravity, but a carnal violation of our own souls.

And of those with whom we are in relationship with. Personally and corporately.

For myself, the best response now is self reflection, authentic dialogue, and an opportunity for accountability to those around me. The greatest thing I can ever pass on to my children is personal ownership, respect for others and a strong drive to live life from a position of honor and integrity. What I feed my children, our home, my own mind, via music, media and personal perspective, even on a small scale, can deeply ingrain the correct, or incorrect, intentionality towards others.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that even when we feel we are “getting away” with something in the natural, that damage is being done in our own souls and in the emotional nuances and atmosphere around us. The greater we love one another, the more likely we are to communicate an expectation for something better than perhaps what we ourselves have experienced, or even previously been guilty of. There is no deeper love than a gentle encouragement to turning back to a life of honor.

And to remember that nothing stays hidden forever…