Great Expectations

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  Psalm 62:5 ESV

It was our third Valentine’s Day together…maybe our fourth.  We were young and newly married and in that season when making a big deal out of Valentine’s Day was still a big deal (at least for me).  I found a quaint little bed and breakfast that was far enough away to feel adventurous and booked our spot several weeks ahead of time.  In our young married state the pre-paid cost was nothing less than a non-refundable splurge.

The day we were supposed to go, our not yet one year old daughter started acting like not quite herself.  Not fully sick, but that clingy/whiny/I could break out in a fever any moment now way.  A fairly new mom I was hesitant to leave her.  My kind friend who had volunteered to babysit overnight was a veteran mom and assured me that they would be fine.  I walked forward looking back and got in the car comforted by the knowledge that I would only be a phone call away and could easily rush home if I needed to.

And we were off.  Check in was at 3:00 and  I had planned our time together to make the absolute most of it.  Excitedly we pulled up to the front of the beautifully decorated home.  From the car I noticed a hand written note upon the door.  It stated:

Found abandoned kittens, had to take to vet.  Be back ASAP. 

A huge letdown, somehow that had failed to make it into my expectations for the weekend.  Instead of feeling even a twinge of sympathy for said abandoned kittens and a rush of respect for the individual who found them and was kindhearted enough to take them to the vet, I only felt irritated.  My plan was interrupted.  My schedule was now off.  My expectations were not being met.  How could a business establishment with an official “check in” and “check-out” time fail to have someone to greet you when it was your time to check in?

Because we had no idea when ASAP would be, we decided to go to an early dinner and check in late.  I’d like to say that I was able to shake off the initial irritation and disappointment and that the rest of our time was wonderful but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.  Every minute we had to wait to check in felt like stolen time and money to me.    I was unable to let go of the frustration of my expectations not being met.  This irritated my husband.  Our entire evening away was tainted leaving both of our expectations unmet.

This wasn’t the first, or the last time that unmet expectations impacted my life in a negative way.  In having expectations of people, of churches, of experiences, and of LIFE,  time and time again I have found myself face to face and heart to heart with disappointment. Often, my great expectations weren’t so great after all-other times, the frailty of humanity lent to realistic unmet expectations. What’s a girl to do?

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  Psalm 62:5 ESV

What the Lord has revealed to me lately is that the only safe place to put my expectations are upon Him.

I can expect that He will be faithful to His Word.

So very much is encompassed within that one sentence.

He will always be with me, never leaving or forsaking me. 

He will keep all of His promises.  He is faithful, trustworthy and true. 

His love for me never changes. 

He is the same yesterday, today and forever. 

He is always on my side, defending, protecting and leading and guiding me into all truth. 

Father, I thank you for the truth I find within your Holy Word.  Help me Lord to place my hope and expectations in you and you alone. 

Tanya Glanzman

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Daddy’s Girl

Have you ever run across a talk show featuring an episode on parent child reunions?  The viewing audience, after hearing the personal story of the individuals to be reunited, is offered an up close and personal front row seat to the first smiles and touches of two people who had for various reasons up until that point been separated from one another.  Everyone claps through their tears, the host wraps up the episode with a huge smile and fond farewell, the climatic music de crescendos and everyone goes home.

The guests which were the focus of the show are now left face to face and heart to heart with someone who they were intended to have relationship with all along.  This causes them to feel close on one level; and yet they must now walk through the motions of establishing those elements of true relationship perhaps eventually, emotional intimacy.  The heart’s longing for that which “should have been” mixed with the reality that relationships are not built in a day must make for an interesting journey.  I’ve often wondered how those two individuals proceed with their relationship after the excite of the re-unite.

Although I always remember believing in God, it wasn’t until I was twenty-one that my heart was eternally reunited with Him.  Much like the excitement, music and lights were the initial days of  my salvation.  My entire life had been impacted by the weight of a single decision.  In a moment, I went from condemned to saved,   guilty to forgiven, tainted to pure and victim to over comer.  Never again would I be alone or unloved.

That God shaped hole within was experiencing the first tastes of what had always been intended to fill it.  It wasn’t until that point that I was able to  realize the insufficiency of previous substitutes.  The introduction to my Savior was glorious and I reveled in His peace that transcended my understanding, joy that was my strength, mercy that was new every morning and love that held no limits.  It was a sweet, sweet time.

And yet, life goes on.  The warm embrace of salvation and the New Birth held firm but the daily reality of life quickly came back into view.  I was now face to face and heart to heart with a Savior whom I did not know.  As I was mentored in truth I quickly learned that this was a relationship that required more than the acceptance of my Savior…it required the offering of my heart to my Father.  Faith, trust, and obedience were apparently key and this is where I struggled.

The facts were, I had never known a Father’s love.  Those things that we all think of…Daddy/Daughter dances, strong arms to rescue you, protection, safety, unconditional love and affirmation…these had been the furthest thing from my personal experience.  From the time I was two until I was fourteen each man within my life, to include my biological father, my stepfathers and my grandfather had taken their turn as thieves to steal from me sacred things that were not ever meant for them.  Sexual, emotional and physical abuse were what characterized my relationship with anyone I had ever called “Father.”  Control, manipulation and fear summarized my experiences with those whom I had called “Daddy.”

And so, for a long time, my way of loving the Father was simply to allow Him to love me.  Like an infant who  is overly tired and has nothing to give, it was a good day when I could rest enough and trust enough to simply allow Him to hold me and offer me comfort rather than flailing about in life consumed by my own misery.  Each time I was willing to become vulnerable enough to spend time in His presence, seek His face and hear His voice, He was abundantly faithful, gentle and patient leading me ever so slowly into those deeper places of intimacy with Him.

After years of relationship trust came more easily.  He taught me through everyday life that He was faithful, trustworthy and true.  As  He was faithful to continue the good work that He began within me, binding up my heart and making every broken place whole; the scales of fear, mistrust and suspicion fell from my eyes helping me to see my Father clearly.  Like with most relationships, it was our time spent together that made the difference.

Perfect love really does cast out fear (1 John 4:18).  Once free to love Him we grew closer at an accelerated pace.  I learned that only I determined the limits on how close we could become.

Daddy/Daughter dances, strong arms to rescue you, protection, safety, unconditional love and affirmation?  Yep…I know them now; Praise you Father I know them now.

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An Eye for an Eyebrow

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Rev. 21:4) NKJ

It was clear when looking in the mirror not too long ago that it was time to do something about my eyebrows.  I am always disgruntled when this revelation greets me in my reflection because I know that inevitably, it will involve some pain. Not nearly brave enough to conquer my own necessary eyebrow maintenance, I weighed my options-some things after all are better left to professionals.

Headed to the mall that day, I remembered that I had previously noted that in one of the small retail kiosks in the midst of the mall there were vendors who offered the service of “eyebrow threading.”  Apparently this is a skillful art perfected in India, where a professional takes a single thread, twists it around your eyebrow hairs, and yanks them out from the root.  The results are supposedly more favorable to waxing because it offers a “cleaner” look with longer lasting results. As well, the sign which proclaimed “less painful than waxing” caught my eye as I passed by.

Already there, I took a moment to stop and purposefully observe the customer who had chosen to utilize this service at that very moment. I noticed that there was no flinching when the thread bearer quickly yanked, accomplishing the necessary task.  In fact, I didn’t notice any of the pained grimacing or tearing up that I was so familiar with in my own personal eyebrow maintenance routine.  Actually, I was amazed and began to become ecstatic at the thought that this peaceful eyebrow grooming experience could actually be mine! Next thing I know I was cheerfully sliding into the cool black reclining faux leather seat, leaning back, and  preparing to experience a peaceful, painless-perhaps even pleasant experience.

It only took a few moments however, for me to begin to contemplate whether the previous customer had either had sensory receptive issues or had been paid well to lure other potential customers into this seat of torture by looking so tremendously at ease during such a tumultuous experience.  The professional “threader” who initially greeted me with such a warm and welcoming smile was now looking rather irritated and frustrated with me as she inwardly grunted, shook her head “no” and had to repeatedly push my hand back down from covering my right eyebrow in an attempt to have a brief reprieve from the immense pain which she was inflicting upon me.  I experienced only a moment of relief when she held the mirror up for me to see the results of her labor..and then the tears came because I realized that I that I still had to sit and endure getting the other eyebrow done.  I was trapped, it was going to hurt-I KNEW it was going to hurt- and all I could do was sit there and suffer with the audience of anyone who happened to be shopping at the mall that day.  I was feeling helpless, vulnerable, and exposed, and all of my feelings were validated by the look I was getting from my new “friend” as she inched toward me preparing to complete the work that she had begun.

There have been many times when I have felt helpless, vulnerable and exposed as I have faced difficult circumstances and walked through hurt as a Believer.  Being part of the Body of Christ means that when we hurt, we do not hurt alone.  Personally, I have the tendency to want to run and hide.   To isolate, so that no one sees me in my weakness.   Those whom we journey with however, who encourage us during the “good” times are there as well when we struggle, when we mourn, when we our hearts are aching. And the truth is, that is exactly the way that the Father intended it to be.

I think that those who love us best during these times are the precious ones who quietly slip their hand in ours and squeeze, letting us know in their gentle and loving way that they are there- for whatever we need- when we are ready. This is the type of friend that I need when I am hurting and hope to be when someone that I love is hurting.

Abba Father, help me to effectively love those in my life who are hurting.  Help me to have wisdom and discernment to know how to encourage, minister to and stand beside those in my life whose hearts are aching.  Help me Father to be a true reflection of you as I gently and quietly listen, encourage and minister hope and truth to those with whom I run beside in this race of life.

 

 

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All Inclusive

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:30

Our family has always loved amusement parks.  As the children have grown older, braver and taller we have enjoyed sharing with them the exhilarating thrill of roller coasters and other fast twirl-y rides that take your breath and equilibrium away all at the same time.  I think strapping ourselves into the metal monsters of amusement is the closest any of us will ever get to “living on the edge.”  It makes us feel like risk takers, it makes us feel alive, it makes us feel carefree!

What I have not always liked about amusement parks is that they make you pay to park.  This does, and has always just seemed completely ridiculous to me.  Call it a strong sense of justice, but it just doesn’t seem fair.   Firstly, the rates of admission are usually so pricey, it seems that parking should be included.  Secondly, charging to park implies that there is an alternative choice available. What alternative choice do we really have?  The enormity and isolation of the parking lot as well as the isolation factor of most amusements parks ensure that pretty much, everyone who drives a car to the park is going to end up paying this extra $10.00 fee for parking.  For me, I think it would be better if they just increased the price of the admission and offered FREE parking.

I guess the opposite of this kind of experience would be one that was “all inclusive.”  Our family was blessed recently by a ministry in Myrtle beach that provides week long all-expenses-paid vacations to families of children battling cancer.  It was amazing to have everything taken care of from the moment we got there until the moment we left.  We felt absolutely spoiled.  Not having to worry about anything made everything seem like an extravagant gift!

Yep, in my book, all inclusive is the way to go.

This is just one of the things I love about Jesus.  He was an “all-inclusive” kind of guy.  When on the cross, dying for our sin, His last word was “Tetelestai.”  In our English Bible, this word is literally translated “It is Finished.”  This phrase however doesn’t quite relay the tremendous magnitude and power of what He was saying.  In the Greek, Tetelestai implies that something has come to an end, it has been completed, perfected and accomplished in full and that the consequences of that very thing will carry on and on.

Indeed.  It was finished on the cross.  The debt and eternal consequence of my sin.  The power of death, hell and the grave.  Any separation from God the Father as a result of my falling short of His glory and perfection.  Taken care of…finished…in all its completeness- It was all included!  And the consequences of what Jesus did for me and for you on that day on the cross will live on and on for the remainder of eternity.

Our righteousness, peace, provision, comfort, protection and healing; wrapped up in that all inclusive gift of love presented to us by the Father, through the Son.

Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;

Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;

Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Father, thank you for the gift of Your Son.  My heart is grateful for all that His death on the cross provided for me.   

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To See the Sea

“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,” 

Psalm 148:7 NIV

For five days I have lingered, listening to the sound of the ocean, watching the waves that are never and always the same dance to their self perpetuated music.  Calming, peaceful, constant… I am conscious of my every effort to open up, take it all in and tuck it away for safe keeping for the days that I will not have the pleasure or ability to do so.

The ocean.  I’ve walked beside it, waded into it, sat in front of it and stared for countless hours upon it. It is beautiful and soothing to my inward most parts.   I’ve pondered it’s depths and width and length.  The sheer vastness of it is humbling, reminding me in one swift glance of the greatness of  our God.    Surely the ocean is an adequate earthly reflection of the power, glory and majesty of the Lord.  And even as I walked upon the shore discussing these things with Him, He reminded me that this is only one of many beaches, shores and oceans that exist by His creative power.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Isaiah 40:12

Spending time at the ocean causes me to become quiet and introspective- at rest.  I am visually reminded in splendor that there is so much that is bigger than me and beyond my ability to fathom, comprehend or understand. When I am beside the ocean, I find that I am able to let go of the wrestling that so often occurs in my head and my heart ever striving to try to understand everything that I do not,  working to try to figure everything out and trying to be in control of everything that I’m really not.

When keeping company with the sea, I am able to just let go and “be.”

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10 

The truth, is that I’m no more capable of “figuring it all” out in the throes of everyday life than I am here in the presence of the sand, seashells and sound of ocean waves roaring in my ears.  Somehow though, I forget.

I can spend countless hours thinking…about how to get things to work out the way I want them to.

I have spent countless hours worrying…about how it will be if they don’t.

So much wasted time and energy on that which is unproductive.

And so, today I am thankful for the ocean.  I am thankful that it stretches so far out that I cannot see the end of it.  I’m thankful that it is so deep, even at it’s beginnings, that my toes cannot touch the bottom.   I’m thankful for the way that it tosses and turns, as if it has a schedule of its own rising  higher or diminishing as the day grows long.  I’m thankful that I have no control over the sea.

This truth offers me a life-giving reminder that it really isn’t my job to be “in control.”  It is only my job to BE.

To BE still and know that He is God.

To BE obedient to His every leading.

To BE quick to hear and obey His voice.

To BE diligent to hide His Word in my heart.

To BE His daughter and everything that that means.

Father, thank you for the beauty of the ocean.  Thank you for the beauty of the truth that all that I must BE is a child of the King.  

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