Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Missing Home

I've been living in VA for almost 3 years, in August it will be official when Mike and I celebrate our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. No matter how many days, months or years seem to pass I still miss NJ. There's a special place in all of our hearts for the place that we grew up calling "home." Home is where I drove with my dad is a limo home for Pascack Valley Hospital, when my mom says my dad leaned over to me in my carseat and said, "Next time I ride with you in a limo will be on your wedding day." Home is where I took my first step at my Aunt Loret and Uncle Peter's home down the road. Home is where I learned to ride a bike with only two wheels my Uncle Keith in front of the carport. Home is where I had play dates with Kerry Gehm and Samantha Smith and ran under the weeping willow trees in the back yard with Frankie and the Morgenstein's after dinner time. It's where my mom and I shared Gilmore Girl like moments everyday, where I learned to cook with her, where we celebrated every holiday and hosted dinner club for a special group of people at our church. It's where we had an open house every Christmas Day for other people we knew who had no family to celebrate with. It's where I went to school, discovered who I was and who I wanted to be, where I gave my life to Jesus at youth group at Montvale Evangelical Free Church. It's where most of my family lives, where Jersey accents are heard, bagels are the best, family owned businesses are the norm and memories are everywhere I look.

Today I guess I just need some time to grieve. Grieve over being away from family and home. And there is nothing wrong with mourning. Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). When we let ourselves mourn over things that make our hearts heavy or eyes tear up we will be comforted by God. Often times I try to stuff down my emotions, but not today. Today a good cry is doing me well, I feel the Lord's comfort and sense the Lord's compassion. He cares about me, he cares that I miss NJ, He understands and that is a great reminder for me.

2 Corinthians 1: 2-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. John 14:1

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When expectations aren't met

I enjoyed doing a few posts from my past journals from college and maybe when I have a bit more time this summer I will be able to share more. I hope you got a little picture of God's work in me as he gave me more of an understanding and desire to know him intimately. This is my prayer for each of you as well, that you may see your need for Jesus, a growing desire to know Him and an understanding of his love for you shown on the cross.

I don't know about you but I sure am one to have high expectations. I think it could be a prerequisite to womanhood or perhaps something embedded in us during the wanna-be-a-princess stages of our little girl years. What have my expectations been over the years? I often except that if I am loving and kind to someone they should treat me in the same manner, however, Jesus says to love our enemies. I used to expect that all my friends from high school and youth group would remain close to me as life went on ("we would ALWAYS be friends"), however, people change and I have changed and only some of those people have remained a part of my life. For a long time as a child I expected that if I prayed enough, wished on stars enough, and was good enough my parents would get married again (however this was not God's plan, and we know His plan is best). Even in Mike and I's marriage I find I create expectations. For example, the first year we were married (the first year I celebrated a birthday away from my family) Mike planned a nice night out to celebrate. I didn't know where we were going or what we were going to do but I already had expectations of what it would be like. iIt would stick to tradition and feel like I was at home celebrating just in VA and without family. Mike would take me out for my favorite dinner after a day of doing my favorite activities, we would meet up with friends or just hang out, he or a group of people would sing me happy birthday, we would have birthday cake and then go home. Well, it didn't go quite like that... We heated up leftovers at home, Mike drove me into Old Town Alexandria (which I loved!), we walked around for a little while, he gave me my birthday present by the fountains in the middle of town, and then he said "I thought we could walk down to Pop's to get some ice cream" (which on any other day would excite me) however, I had expectations that weren't met. So what do you suppose happened next? I began to cry. Yes, in the middle of Old Town by the fountains where everyone typically enjoys ice cream and hanging with friends I began to sob. This birthday didn't feel like I thought it would. No one was celebrating with us. There was no "Happy Birthday Song" and no birthday cake. Once I calmed down Mike and I talked about having expectations, expressing those expectations/ideas (husbands should be "expected" to read our minds) and we decided to go to cheesecake factory where we got to see his little sister, have waiters sing to me and eat something that could have a candle stuck in it :) What did I learn? I learned that expectations can lead to disappoint sometimes and that we should be careful what we have expectations about and how tightly we hold to those expectations.

In Matthew 11 we see this same life lesson of expectations not being met coming to life. Let's check out verses 1-7.

"When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? And Jesus answered them, "Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

From birth John the Baptist had been described as the one who would be "the voice of one calling in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight" (Matt. 3:3). John has lived his life up to this point anticipating the coming of the Messiah. He is looking forward to meeting the Messiah and being freed from all earthly trouble, finally free to live with only blessing upon him. Now he is in prison. This was not a part of HIS plan and he certainly did not expect to the Messiah to be near if he was facing such hardship.

The ESV Study Bible Notes explain these verses as follows: "John is probably concerned because his current imprisonment does not match his understanding of the Coming One's arrival, which was to bring blessing on those who repented and judgment on those who did not. Jesus' ministry, however, is in line with the prophetic promises about the time of salvation, as seen especially in these descriptions that recall the words of Isaiah: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and good news is preached to the poor. Jesus' deeds gave sufficient proof of who he was and that the prophesied time of salvation had come. The beatitude is a mild rebuke; John and his disciples must be open to God's unfolding plan even though Jesus' ministry did not match their messianic expectations."

Just like John we can have expectation not only about others & our circumstances but about who God is, how he acts and how he should act. This is a dangerous place to be. Our expectations of God do not change who God is (I can assure you they would make less of God then He is) and our circumstances do not change who God is or how much He loves us. We have to remember that while expectations are not bad, they can lead to disappoint and even unbelief. Gods ways are not always as we would expect but He promises in Romans 8:28 "All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." We don't always "feel" God's love the way we expect, however, faith in God and His love for us is more than a feeling, He died on a cross for us and in seasons He disciplines us, and while that discipline may not "feel" good at the time, however, scripture says in Hebrews 12:11 "No disciple seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Let's pray for right expectations. Let's start by allowing God to mold our expectations and exceed them.