Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31: HOPE (Why Expectations are Always an EpicFail)

Each day during The PURSE-onality Challenge: "A Holiday-Ready Heart" in October, Untangling Christmas by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice, will be our give-away prize!  

Enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the blog post or click here to enter!
Day 28: CONTENT (My Heart's Contents Control My Contentment)
Day 29: STRENGTH (In My Weakness, His Strength)
Day 30: JOY (The Freedoms of Joy)

Today's blog post comes to you as a vlog (below) and blog (scroll further down)!

(Can't see the video?  Click here to view "Why Expectations Are Always an EpicFail" directly on YouTube!)

Sharing a Reciprocal Blessing

I was blessed by an anonymous comment this morning:

Wow! Doing this series has been an eye opener for me. 

Back a couple of years ago I gave up on Christmas celebration and I really could not give a full answer as to why. With two children I came up with creative answers as to why mom did not want to celebrate anymore. 

After reading today's entry, I realize that I let the moaners and groaners steal my holiday joy. In all my efforts to deal with them and keep them happy, I no longer was celebrating simply because 'the Lord is come'. 

Thank you so much for helping me to realize this. This year I think there will be a new mindset and more than a few changes as we celebrate the coming of our Lord. 

I am so thrilled, for a couple of reasons.

First, the Day 30 blog post almost didn’t even happen. I spent an hour and a half working on it but could not come up with anything. My mind went blank; I kept erasing everything. I almost put up the verse of the day with a note saying, "Sorry, Cheri is brain dead"!

But when I sat down again in the morning, the lyric to “Joy to the World” came to mind. I realized, “Hey, that’s in present tense: the Lord is come!” And things sort of came together.

When I hit “publish,” I still felt like the post was just okay. It would fill space, but I didn’t think anybody would get much out of it. I got something -- which is why I’ve done the challenge all month -- the reminder that the Lord is come. And that’s it; that’s all I really need!

And, it is nice to know that someone else has been blessed along the way.

A Woman Whose Love Protects

Let's take a quick look back at where we started. 

I borrowed the phrase “a woman whose love protects” from Proverbs 31 Ministries to help explain what I mean by “a holiday-ready heart.”

And after blogging through the month, I realize that I can only be a woman whose love protects if I know -- and I mean really really know -- that my own heart is protected.

And the various issues I’ve explored -- the various obstacles to really enjoying and celebrating the holy-days -- are all about feeling un-safe. Feeling threatened, as if I need to protect my own heart because I can’t trust God to protect my heart.

Self-Protection = Expectations = Disappointment

For me, it’s a three-step process when I decide to engage in self-protection:

1)  I develop expectations based on my PURSE-onality goal and needs. My expectations are probably a bit different from yours.

2)  I place my expectations on the people in my life: husbands, kids, students, strangers.

Step #3 is so predictable...

3)  I am completely disappointed in the people around me because they “let me down.”  

Expectations always lead to disappointment because people are not in this world to help me achieve my goals and meet my needs!  

So through my best attempts to make myself feel more safe and protect my own heart, I end up guaranteeing that I’m going to end up feeling even less safe.

Hope vs. Expectations = NO CONTEST

The only antidote for this is today’s word:  HOPE.

Romans 5:5 specifically sayshope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” 

The reason that hope doesn’t disappoint and expectations do disappoint us is that expectations are all about people.  

They’re about me and what I think I need and want. They’re totally self-centered. And they’re about what I need and want from you.

Hope, on the other hand, is about God. 

Hope is about what He has done, what He is currently doing, and what He will do. 

Hope doesn’t disappoint because God doesn’t disappoint.

Hebrews 6:19 saysWe have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

I love this image of an anchor.  

As you’ve probably gathered if you’ve read my blog posts this month and seen my vlogs, I can tend to be somebody who is all over the place. My life can be full of storms and waves, and my emotions can lead me up and down and all over the place.

I need an anchor to hold me firm. 

It doesn’t drag me under; it doesn’t weigh me down. 

But when everything else around is windy and stormy and choppy, that anchor of hope keeps me in one place. It keeps me from getting too far off course. 

Then, when the time is right, the anchor can come back up, and I can move forward again.

I’ll close with the final verse of the Challenge, Romans 15:13, as a benediction: 

May the God of hope 
fill you with all joy and peace 
as you trust in him, 
so that you may overflow with hope 
by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Your Turn:
  • About what do you tend to develop expectations and foist them upon others? 
  • How have you seen the difference between expectations and hope in your life?  
  • Anything else on your heart!

    Celebrate with a new button declaring:

    The PURSE-onality Challenge
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    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Day 30: JOY (The Freedoms of Joy)

    Each day during The PURSE-onality Challenge: "A Holiday-Ready Heart" in October, Untangling Christmas by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice, will be our give-away prize!  

    Enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the blog post or click here to enter!

    ...weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.
    Psalm 30:5 (NIV)

    Trying Too Hard

    In Christmases past, I've wasted so much time trying too hard to manufacture the "right conditions" to produce the "right responses":
    • decorating the house just right so that my guests will admire me.
    • buying the just right gifts so that their recipients will be grateful.
    • cooking all the right foods so that those who eat it will be happy.
    • planning the right family time so that we'll all feel connected.

    But things always managed to go wrong.
    • The carrot noses disappeared from all my hand-crafted snow-people, ruining my decorating scheme. 
    • Certain people refused to even open their gifts or, if they did, insisted they didn't need what I'd so carefully selected.
    • Some item of food always sets of the smoke alarm and the meal was never ready on time.
    • At any given moment, someone was grouchy and someone was tired and someone was mad at someone and it could not possibly have been more obvious that we are four very different PURSE-onalities!

    Joy is a Gift
    Grieving, I'm finding, is a rebirth process that invites joy to flourish in the present.

    When I'm not burdened by anxiety for the future or regrets from the past, I'm freed to live in the here and now.

    I can receive each present moment as a gift.

    I love the verb tense of the Christmas carol lyrics "Joy to the world the Lord is come."

    It's in the present tense.  

    The Lord is come!

    Joy is a Choice

    I used to try too hard so that other people would react the way I needed them to so that I could experience holiday joy.

    But my experience of joy is not dependent on any other person.

    I experience joy because Jesus is come. 

    As I choose to focus on Jesus, I choose joy.

    The Freedoms of Joy

    When I choose Joy, I'm freed from trying too hard so that... Instead,
    • I can decorate my home because doing so is an outward expression of inner celebration ... whether or not the carrot noses are ever found. 
    • I can give gifts because of how much I've been given ... whether or not they're opened or appreciated "properly."
    • I can fix food because it's one way we celebrate the many ways God has provided ... regardless of whether the hot foods are hot or cold foods cold when served.
    • I can hang out with family because -- regardless of our moods -- we are recipients of and expressions of God's unfathomable love. 

    No matter what the issues I've struggled with in holidays past, this year I am free to choose joy.

    Instead of struggling so that..., I will celebrate because

    The Lord is come!

    Your Turn:
    • What does "joy" mean to you? How is it different from happiness? What causes you to experience joy? 
    • What types of "trying so hard so that..." has blocked your holiday joy in the past?  
    • Anything else on your heart!