Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What Do You Expect?

I've been ruminating over this concept quite a bit the last few months. And while I am by no means an expert on expectations, I hope my thinking (read: obsessing) will help you think (and not obsess) through your own expectations.

My friend Mary and I are often reminding ourselves of this: lower your expectations! Not in a negative, lazy way, but in a "life does not go as you planned" sort of way. You know, like after a long day at our homeschool group, thinking I'm going to cook a meal that takes one hour to prep, another hour to make, and 37 steps, timed just right. Nope, not going to happen. I'm far better off if I lower those expectations a bit and find contentment in ordering a Papa Murphy's Pizza.

This isn't to say there aren't times to raise the bar. When we read history lessons or the bible to our kids, we have the highest of expectations for them to listen well and hold a conversation with us about what was interesting, what they didn't like, or what questions they might have. A very admirable woman I know, who is greatly humble and insanely brave, says we should set the bar high for our children and then give them high grace. Expect our children to achieve great things, but allow them to fail without condemnation.

What I really mean by all of this is expectations can be tricky. You want to expect wonderful things, to really hope God will do something amazing each day, but at the same time, we have to expect that many of our days will not go according to plan. This means we need to be most honest, and most earnest when looking at our expectations, our plans, and our hopes. Being real about your disappointments and seeing your day as God sees it is a humble yet lovely way to begin to find peace in days gone wrong. They are still days worth living. I'll give you an example.

Maybe you've been waiting for an update on my time at SheSpeaks? Lucky you, you'll get a concise (don't mistake concise for short) version along with photos, and you'll even get to learn from my own experience about days gone wrong. Honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal, but on day two I was frustrated beyond words, beyond tears, beyond any prayer I could muster.

Travel day was ideal, pretty much perfect. I started reading this amazing book, got to see my lovely roommates for the first time in a year, and had amazing conversation long into the night. My friend Jennifer opened her soul and her pain to me with such grace and willingness... when she writes her book, you HAVE to read it.

The entire day was filled with the Holy Spirit moving, great insights I needed to hear, wonderful fellowship, and lots of catching up with people I met from last year. 

Amy Seiffert and I met last year and connected really well. I always love what she has to share!

I started getting ready for bed when the power went out. For real, the power in the hotel and a ten mile radius was out for most of the night. Thankfully our hotel had fabulous generators that kept hallways lit and one elevator running until the power came back on around 4am. I know it was about that time, because I had already been up half the night. 

This is the second time I've experienced what I believe to be extreme anxiety in my body that my heart and mind could not overcome. I prayed, I worshipped, I cried, I went to the bathroom, I couldn't lay down, but I was dying to rest. My stomach was in knots and I felt sick beyond belief. In my mind I was not nervous for the second day and felt a real peace that God was doing His work. My first publisher appointment had gone wonderfully and I was thrilled for my sessions lined up on day two. But for some reason, God has allowed my body to do this crazy thing where I don't sleep, feel like I'm dying of stomach pains and nausea, and have major responsibilities I absolutely need to deal with early the next day. It's pretty much as awesome as it sounds. 

Somehow, I was able to get up, get mostly ready, and head to the first morning session. I missed a lot of it, but I was determined to not let these opportunities pass me by. I was emotional, weak, nauseous, and did my best not to cry whenever someone asked if I was okay. Apparently, sleeping only three hours and feeling sick most of the night takes its toll on your face. I felt so lousy tears just kept spilling with every conversation, and I have no idea how I made it through the day. Friends were so gracious, so helpful, and I even had strangers come and pray for me. Truly, the best place to be sick is with other Christian women. 

I forgot to take many pictures that second day, but there were still so many highlights and wonderful things that happened; I cannot explain it all. Being in Nicki Koziarz' session and having a meaningful conversation with her might have been my favorite part of the day. Listening to Liz Curtis Higgs speak was the most entertaining, beautiful way to cap off the weekend. And getting to meet another mom who does Classical Conversations with her kiddos was the icing on the cake that took me two hours to eat (because I talk so much, in case you were wondering). 

Liz Curtis Higgs on the final night and my new friend, and fellow CC mom, Aimee Smith.

I have been blessed by this opportunity, and if you are feeling the push to make your writing or speaking endeavors a priority, I would not hesitate to tell you to get your rear here next year! The friendships, the prayer, the learning, and the personal guidance are unlike anything I've ever been involved in. Also, from all these pictures I realize I have really terrible posture. Yikes! 

So again, what does this have to do with expectations? I went to SheSpeaks planning to learn, hoping to have great publisher appointments, and expecting to get advice. I hoped to connect with old friends and make new, and maybe get to talk with some women further along the road than me. And while half of my time there was under totally different circumstances than I planned, God still provided for me all the things I hoped to encounter. 

We have to let go of our precise expectations and look for the greater work God is doing in us. Instead of hoping for particular circumstances, let's set our hope upon God moving in our lives and sanctifying us through any means necessary. Are we willing to endure what He deems good for us? Are we willing to let go of our expectations for a "good life" or a "perfect day" and enjoy what we can, while learning from anything that falls under the "less than pleasant" category? 

I definitely struggle with this in my day-to-day life at home with my kids, but when I experience the goodness that comes from moving forward in hardship, I am more dedicated to moving forward through the monotony at home. And that is when I finally begin to value the interruptions that seem random, or needless during my day. I expect detours because I expect God to work. And He shows up every day, whether I notice or not. I don't know about you, but I want to notice as much of God as possible.

So what will you expect? And what will you notice? I am thankful God continues to move in and around me, despite my unwillingness and grumpy attitude. I hope you see God working in your life and can value the circumstances that lead you to Him, pleasant or not. I know it's a challenge, but I also know it is worth every ounce of effort you are willing to give. May we see Him in it all!


  1. Look at you, girl! Doing it. 💪🏼

    1. I am having too much trouble with editing my own comments! Gah. Thank you :) It means a lot to me that you read through my post!

  2. Great read. Honest. Transparent. But what is CC mom? I am a not mom and have no idea what you're talking about

    1. Sorry, I deleted the wrong comment. CC stands for Classical Conversations - it's a homeschool group we both belong to! I always debate whether or not I should abbreviate, so thanks for pointing that out :)

  3. I'm proud of you for pushing forward despite the physical torture! I was going to say it's funny what our bodies will do even though our minds are at peace, but at the same time I also have a sense that there is a bit of spiritual warfare going on as well. Always feel free to reach out for prayer any time of the day or night - mom and dad are happy to intercede on your behalf! Love you! (From the mom that never had to set high standards for you because you set them for yourself)

  4. Amen on looking for God to interrupt. That's where He does the most amazing things. :)