Expectations

It is so easy to be moved from being satisfied to dissatisfaction when we allow our own or someone else’s expectations run the show.

Not all expectations are bad. I am referring to the expectation that you will be able to pull off the unrealistic perfect family gathering this weekend! We see those photos in ads where there aren’t any dirty dishes or dust bunnies and every outfit blends or coordinates with every outfit in the photo and all of that is accented by the perfect food, makeup, and….well, the list goes on. Media and advertising have painted unrealistic and unattainable “picture perfect” moments for us to try to reproduce in our own homes.

Can you imagine how long it takes to set up those photo shoots?

And when we aren’t able to pull it off we become dissatisfied with what we have.

Don’t do it. Don’t go there.

Folks, it isn’t happening at our house. We won’t be serving perfection but we are serving love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. We have been busy with life so we might be a wee bit tired and the house isn’t perfectly clean. We didn’t buy new dresses. We probably won’t be color coordinated but we will be enjoying one another’s company. When it is time to share the big meal, my goal is for all the food to be ready at the same time but even that isn’t always easy.

Expectations. Sometimes they kill the joy of the moment!

God sent Jesus in an unexpected way to save ordinary people like you and me. Jesus died an unimaginable death to set things right with God on our behalf. This isn’t the picture perfect situation by the world’s standards but God’s love for us is perfect, so this evidence of God’s love is perfection.

God has given you His all. Ask Him to open your eyes and heart to be satisfied with all He is and all He is doing.

Thank You, Father, for Your perfect love!

Preparations

It’s been a day, a week really, preparing for Easter Sunday in the many ways one might do that:

* travel arrangements
* menu planning
* food shopping
* egg dyeing
* wardrobe additions
* cleaning
* decorating

In all this busyness has there been enough consideration of The Cross, The Christ, The Crucifixion?

There is still time to contemplate the incredible exchange that took place.

+ His life was given for yours.

+ You are worth the sacrifice He made.

+ You are worth the breath He gave.

+ Your value is not in what you have done or who you are.

+ Your beauty and value is in the eyes of your Beholder, your Savior, your Risen Lord.

Betrayal

There are a couple of lines in this song that keep running through my mind:

Why by Michael Card

Why did it have to be a friend who chose to betray the Lord?
and why did he use a kiss to show them, that’s not what a kiss is for?
Only a friend can betray a friend, a stranger has nothing to gain.
And only a friend comes close enough to ever cause so much pain.

Why did it have to be a thorny crown place upon his head?
It should have been a royal one, made of jewels and gold instead.
It had to be a crown of thorns, because in this world that we live,
all that would seek to love a thorn is all the world has to give.
Why did it have to be a heavy cross he was made to bear?
and why did they nail His feet and hands; His love would have held him there.
It was a cross for on a cross, a thief was supposed to pay.
and Jesus had come into the world to steal every heart away.
Yes, Jesus had come into the world to steal every heart away.

Betrayal is one of those experiences we have all gone through at one point or another in our lives. Sometimes it is a secret shared, a boundary violated, a promise broken, an intentional wound. Have you forgiven your betrayer?

Have you considered your actions that have betrayed your true feelings and beliefs? Those times you knew what was the right course of action and chose the other path? If we nurse the wounds and the pain we have experienced in a betrayal, we continue to allow ourselves to be victimized. Christ came for our victory over victimization by demonstrating God’s forgiveness in His action on the Cross. Allow His forgiveness of your betrayal of Him lead the way and surrender any perceived justification your have against your betrayers.

God’s blessings to you as you release the burden of betrayal into His arms of redemption and restoration!

Words

Have you ever thought about how complicated it is to get a message across to someone without all of your history, assumptions, and issues getting in the way? And what about the one who is listening to you? They have their own experiences, beliefs, and definitions that can easily get in the way of hearing what you intend to say.

We all know we ought to chose our words carefully. I know the things I say are often misunderstood because I usually talk through a subject to arrive to my “final” thoughts but I say things as I am processing them. If you only camp on something I said midstream, you might never stick around to hear my ultimate conclusion. Never mind the times when I simply change my mind on something even if I have already stated my opinion!

There are times we can look deep into what someone is saying and hear only what we want to hear and what confirms our suspicions. Dialogue is great for clarification but taking the time for dialogue is often hard to arrange. Conversations that are uncomfortable are difficult to tease through and I am guilty of often avoiding those types of conversations. Sometimes they do more harm than good because people still believe what they want to believe about what they think they heard.

Considering this topic today has made me think I should take a vow of silence and yet that wouldn’t ultimately solve anything either. For now, I will speak less and listen more. I hope that keeps me out of trouble.

Formulas

3 steps to a new _________!

10 ways to teach your ______ how to ______!

12 foods you should eat every day!

7 ways to a new __________!

9 foods to throw out of your diet!

I know most of the things I should be doing but I am so overwhelmed with everything I have to do that I would love a sure fire formula for a few battle areas. Do you ever feel the same way? I know when I am desperate I am not as discerning as I need to be and it is then that I fall prey to deception.

If every formula depended on only me, maybe, just maybe they would work, but considering my level of distraction, I don’t guess so. While I am not against suggestions, I think it is important to remember that many of the “formulas” for weight loss, obedient children, a better marriage, success in school, etc do not take into account that people and their wills are also a part of the equation. Some of these ultimate formulas are ultimately frustrating and keep us chasing our tails!

If you find yourself in a desperate spot, hoping that someone else’s perfect formula will help you out of a crazy situation, think again because if you pursue a plan without any discernment on your part, you might make things worse. There isn’t a perfect, sure fire plan for most things because we are dealing with unique people and complicated lives and culture. You cannot control every variable and you should not try.

There may be some things you can control and there are many, many more things you cannot. Amazingly, God allowed us to have our wills and He continues to work in, with, and through our mistakes and struggles to bring His message of love and grace to a hurting world. If we do a little more releasing of things we want to control, God can move in and have some wiggle room to transform a situation. It might not follow a formula someone recommended to you but are you comfortable enough with God to let Him lead you in a way unique to your situation? Following someone else’s formula isn’t always the best plan–but following God is!

Dig into His Word and seek His face. You might consider what those around you have to say but listen with discernment. When you adopt a formula, you are taking the lead. It is hard for God to lead when we are in the way!

At the Cross

This has always been a favorite song for me. The tune is simple but the words are powerful…I pray you are able to release all difficult situations in your life into God’s care!

At the Cross

I know a place, a wonderful place
Where accused and condemned
Find mercy and grace
Where the wrongs we have done
And the wrongs done to us

Were nailed there with Him
There at the cross

At the cross,
At the cross
He died for our sin
At the cross,
At the cross
He gave us life again

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/v/vineyard/

Seasons

I do love the routine of the seasons although there are some seasons I like better than others. I like the general predictability of the seasons within a year but even the “unseasonal” events make life interesting.

I have always enjoyed the seasons of parenting and rarely wished the days away. I enjoyed each moment as it came. And if I was in an ugly moment, I knew that it would change shortly. When it was a sweet moment, I savored it knowing it would also move quickly to the next.

I also enjoy the seasons of the Church Year. Today, Palm Sunday, marks the start of Holy Week. It is a very busy week at our church for the entire staff. It probably is at yours as well. There are many people putting in many hours of preparation. Pray for your pastors, musicians, janitorial staff, secretaries, bulletin designers, printers and collators. Pray for the many who will attend church only because it is expected in their family. Pray for God’s Word to be preached effectively and for many ears to hear the Gospel, pure and true.

And as you travel through this Holy Week, consider the walk Jesus took for you. Pray for a greater integration of His gifts of love, mercy, and forgiveness into your life. As His gifts pour out into your life let them flow unrestricted to those around you!