The joys of fall!!!
It’s SUCH a beautiful time here in Oregon! We have the most beautiful seasons. One day it’s summer, the next day you wake up and there’s a chill in the air and a leaf falls in your face and all of a sudden, it’s fall. It’s beyond amazing to see the handiwork of God so clearly! I’m so thankful I live here.
BUT…it also rains. A LOT! Which is why it’s so beautiful!! – and wet.
Today I learned, again, about NOT having expectations. It’s a daily struggle for me. I have a thick skull!!
So…what does that have to do with pumpkins you might ask??
Today, my daughter’s preschool class was scheduled to go to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin, learn about potatoes, ride a big hay tractor, find our way through a hay maze, etc etc etc. For the last two weeks we’ve been talking about how fun this is going to be and how big the pumpkin was going to be that we would pick out. The weather has been beautiful, so all we’ve been expecting was a beautiful day!
This morning…rain. BUCKETS of rain. I wanted to stay home…like REAL bad!! Hmmmm, now what?!!
What do I do with my expectations for a sunny, joy-filled pumpkin patch day?? Put them to death! Because mama is going to get dirty, my child is going to get muddy and wet, we are going to get home looking like wet dogs and have a big mess to clean up. And, that’s going to have to be okay!!! – in fact…that’s going to be GREAT! (right?!)
Look at that smile!!! She LOVED it!! And yes…those are huge rain drops by my eye!!
Honestly a few years ago, I would have told her “Oh, they cancelled it! I’m so sorry but it’s raining we can’t go!” – justifying it by thinking, “She won’t remember it anyway!” and thinking about all the “work” it was going to be.
But, the Lord is softening my heart and I’m realizing memories trump expectations!! And when I’m handed lemons…this mama is learning how to make a big ol’ tall glass of sugary lemonade that makes the lips pucker and the heart happy!!!
Expectations can destroy our day and get us into so much trouble…they steal our joy!
But why? Why can’t I have expectations? I’m a planner…I like to have a plan. I “need” a plan! – right?!
Yes…a little. But the roots of expectation are buried in selfish. They usually only involve what I want to see happen or done in my life.
Maybe you expect your kids to be happy…and perfect. NOPE, not gonna happen!
Maybe you expect your kids to stay clean when they go outside. NOPE, not gonna happen!! – this one is for me!
Maybe you expect your son (or husbands for some of you) to pick up his dirty socks. NOPE, not gonna happen!!
Maybe you expect to get spoiled on your birthday, or that your friends will remember your birthday. NOPE, not gonna happen!!
Maybe you expect your day is going to be restful and free of trouble. NOPE, not gonna happen!! – well…unless you don’t have children!
Maybe you expect your vacation to bring your family closer and everyone is going to be SO happy! NOPE, not gonna happen!!
When I wake up in the morning with a desire for things to go my way and “be perfect”, I’m setting myself up for a very very bad day…and that’s what I should expect!
There’s no flexibility or grace in expectations. When you have an expectation, you focus on fulfilling that expectation and bringing it to fruition at all cost…at the cost of people…at the cost of relationships! :) And, when it doesn’t happen, we have a pity party…then sin and darkness come flooding in!! Light can’t shine in dark places.
We can’t see that God might want to do a GREATER work there!! God doesn’t care about the socks or the rain…He cares about whether we will choose to pick up those socks with a servant heart to bless our kids or whether we will go stomp around in the puddles to show them how fun getting muddy and wet can be in order to make memories! It’s about remembering God sees us and has good plans for us…plans that will make memories in our walk with Him. It’s not about the people in our lives (our friends or kids or husbands) or a rainy day (our circumstances)…it’s about obeying our Lord and Savior with a happy heart and loving this life He’s given us and being thankful in all circumstances…even for the rain and the flawed people He’s given us.
How do we get through the day without being disappointed by our expectations:
1. Hold our day out to the Lord as soon as we open our eyes in the morning. Only the Lord knows what is in store that day. Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.” And only HE can equip us with the right heart and mind to get through the day with grace. When we hold our plans out to the Lord we are saying, “Lord, I trust you with this day. I trust your love for me and how you will carry me through it. Give me grace to walk humbly before you so that I may be a light.”
2. When you hit a bump in the road, don’t freak out and start grumbling. We think our life should be comfortable and perfect. WHY!?! NO where in the Bible does it say, “Life is going to be roses and daisies, everyone will always be kind to you and everything will always go your way!” Not going to happen! So, why do we have that expectation? The Bible says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) The only expectation we should have is in Christ we will have peace…everything else will let us down. And when we start complaining, we are JUST like the world. Philippians 2:14-15: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”
3. Remember God’s vision is bigger than ours. We are God’s kids…a child of the King. He loves us, His plans for us are good, He is sovereign and mighty. He is trustworthy. He has never let us down. He sees my whole life and how this “bump” is for my good and for His glory! He sees us at the end of time, seated with Him in the Heaven. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (11 Corinthians 4:17)
God cares about our hearts…not the trial…not the rain…not the socks!! :) He uses the bumps to shape us into His image. Pressure, sanding, carving, chipping, clipping, pruning…these things happen as our loving Creator uses trials and sufferings to make us more holy…to make us more set apart from the world…to make us more like Jesus. Remember, He cares about you or He wouldn’t be spending the time sharpening you up and making you more holy!
4. Be thankful. Like Junior Asparagus says, “A thankful heart is a happy heart!” The quickest way to change our heart and expectation about something is to be thankful for the hard, the unexpected, the wet, the dirty…because in those moments, there is still beauty, there are beautiful memories, there is light. No matter what is going on around us, we can find something to be thankful for…ALWAYS! “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes 5:18) It’s a command!
This is a trick I use on my kids when they are grumpy. I stop them, I look in their eyes and I make them give me five things they can be thankful for right then and there. You can’t help but be happy when you realize how blessed we are and it puts that “bump” in perspective. It’s just a bump…we’ll eventually cross over it and put it behind us. In the meantime, let’s praise and worship the Lord for His abundant blessings. And, like my pastor always says, “If you can’t think of something to be thankful for, thank the Lord you’re not in hell and headed for Heaven!” – Amen to that, right?!?!
So, let it rain, let your kids get dirty, remember there’s no perfect vacation, person or day. We are all sinful, imperfect creatures living in a fallen world. Praise the Lord for His love and His grace and the fact that He never gives up on us!! Let’s keep our eyes Heavenward, let’s be people who are thankful, and let’s keep our hearts flexible so the “fine tuning” doesn’t hurt so much!!
Now…onto pumpkin carving with an almost 4 year old. Pray for me!