Dealing with the Unexpected

This week marked 23 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart.

In the past year, we’ve commented many times about life not being what we expected. This week we reflected on more ways life has not been what we expected. We concluded that in many ways we didn’t even know what we expected and in other ways what we expected was not to be.

Some unexpected things brought joy.
  • Having a baby in our 40’s when we had three teens
  • Meeting strangers who become family in the grocery store
  • People faithfully giving and supporting us
  • Immediate deep connections with new friends
  • Opportunities to serve as a family
We concluded we did expect:
  • to do it together – whatever life brought our way. Here we are 23 years down the road more connected and committed than ever.
  • to love our kids and have lasting relationships with them.
  • to raise responsible adults. While we have not arrived it would appear we’re on the right track.
  • God to be faithful and He has.
Unmet expectations can derail us.

They open opportunity to accuse God or people. They also open opportunity for grief and growth.

  • Losing a son
  • Getting carbon monoxide poisoning
  • A failed business through no fault of our own
  • Strained relationships
  • Projects taking years longer than planned

Unmet expectations are really a fork in the road, a decision point.

Will we stay disappointed, hurt, or grow bitter? Or will we run to Father God with our hurts, confusion, and questions?

Growing bitter imprisons us.

Running to God opens the door for healing, grace, and new perspective.

What unexpected things has life brought your way?

When you have unmet expectations which path do you take?

Courage Is a Choice

Courage Is a Choice
Courage is a command; therefore a choice, not a feeling.

Courage is a command; therefore a choice, not a feeling.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9 KJV

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. – Phl 4:13 KJV

Questioning: Who Am I?

Asking Questions About Dreaming
Asking Questions About Dreaming
Who do I want to be?
Who am I made to be?
What are my passions?
What are my talents?
Where is my voice?
What is my purpose?
What does it look like?
I can remember doing sketches like this one since junior high. I can picture specific ones, even a college art project full of questions. At first this was not a happy thought. I was quite discouraged to be swimming, maybe wallowing, in a sea of questions, again. Some of the same questions, still.At almost 40 years old I’m seeing for the first time that perhaps questioning is just part of the way I am. I’m a thinker. I’m a planner. I’ve always felt wrong for all my questions I’ve always felt I should have the answers. I guess like question were bad if I didn’t have the answer. I wouldn’t be much of a thinker or a planner if I didn’t see things that needed answers, would I?It’s not bad to have the question and no answer. It’s wrong to dwell on the question without seeking the answer (wallowing – which would be why I was discouraged? Have been over the years?).I thought I personally needed to supply the answer, like it wouldn’t be okay to find the answer or get help with finding answers. Of course there is no way I can have all the answers to the questions I ask. I have God given resources all around, and within me. I am not enough by myself.Seeing this thinking about questioning being wrong, needing to have all the answers written out it is obviously wrong. Having it within me I hadn’t even seen it.
Jesus said “I am the way.” The way where? Well to heaven, to eternal life. So much more than that, too. He is the way to answer my questions. He is the answer to my questions. He created me. He has plans for me, good ones! If he has plans that would be the answers I’m looking for.
Holy Spirit has sealed me and lives inside me. He knows all the plans for me. He is always communicating the Father’s thoughts to my spirit. I have to learn to listen, choose to listen, chose to respond.I believe seeing questions and seeking answers as part of my make up is another part of knowing my identity so I can pursue God’s dreams for me.Is there something about your personality that has frustrated you? Ask God about His intentions for that trait. Satan loves to twist our God given strengths and gifts to our destruction. Brought back under God’s plan they will be part of reaching our destiny.I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.This post is part of my One Word 2013 series. To read more search Dream on this blog.

Trading Discouragement for Courage

 How appropriate that my journey into the word Dream has brought me to trading discouragement for courage. I have certainly been discouraged – this week even.  I need to focus on trading the discouragement for new courage.
 In the wake of dying dreams I have been disappointed and discouraged-even disillusioned.  I’ve had some really big dreams die. This week however it was a small thing that had me discouraged. I had an event that didn’t turn out like I had hoped. I’m not sure why a few people not coming to an event would make me question everything about my writing. For a while it did though, a failed event meant I was a failure in everything, in every way. That’s discouragement.
DISCOURAGE, v.t. discourage.

1. To extinguish the courage of; to dishearten; to depress the spirits; to deject; to deprive of confidence.

The great trade is that God always has courage to offer – His courage. After a much too long pity party yesterday, today I set out to find new courage. It takes courage to dream again. There are a lot of questions and hurts when a dream dies. In my pity party I was lamenting to my husband about where I should put my time and how much time I should put into marketing my books. Lack of courage reared its head when the most obvious solution was to personally contact churches about my books. “I can’t do that.” “I don’t know what to say.” “What would I present?” I was disappointed and discouraged. Courage had left me. “I’m not good at small talk.” “I hate cold calls.” “I hate feeling like I’m trying to sell myself or push my product.” Somehow the fear makes me forget that I have a valuable tool to offer. 
 I’m in need of courage to revive my dream of selling books. I’m in need of courage to revive dreams for my future. Where do I start?
COURAGE, n. [L., the heart.] Bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution. It is a constituent part of fortitude; but fortitude implies patience to bear continued suffering.

Courage that grows from constitution, often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; courage which arises from a sense of duty, acts in a uniform manner.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
The explanation after the definition reveals a truth. We can take courage because we will to but how much greater when the courage comes from God. We’ve read His word we’ve heard His voice so we are full of courage.
Courage comes from remembering who I am and who’s I am. I guess dealing with disappointment restores courage too. I have to change my thinking to be courageous. I also need to change some actions. There are skills I can practice and acquire to give me courage. I can put together a presentation and practice it. Being sure I’m putting my time and effort where God wants it to go will give me courage.
 I know I can have courage because scripture repeatedly tells me to have courage. It’s a choice – my choice. I can look at the mountain or I can look at the God who moves mountains. I will learn to be courageous.

What do you do when you lack courage? Are the helpful or hurtful?
Do you have any new ideas to try to gain courage?