Great Expectations

  

We’ve all been there before – Checking our phones constantly for a text from someone special. For an email from a friend. For someone to surprise you on Valentine’s Day or your birthday. For a call to say they miss you. Even for someone to notice you. Notice a change you’ve made. To tell you they like you. Or that they love you. 

We all have great expectations of those around us, those we are closest to, those that we love the most. 

But what we do with those expectations can make the difference in our own lives and emotions. 

Let me admit first – this is one of my own biggest faults. So you aren’t alone. I’m preaching to myself here. 

I blame my creative, writer’s mind and imagination, but my expectations of friends have been known to go to the extreme. Let me give you an example:

Cute guy compliments my outfit. Expectations begin. What does it mean? Does he like me? Does he just like my outfit? Then begins my imagination with expectations, and about four different conversations and scenarios, that play through my head for the next time it happens. (The expectation of it happening again, that is.)

And when it doesn’t happen again, or the conversation doesn’t go the way I “expected” or rehearsed it to go, I get upset. 

I was getting upset over a conversation that had only ever happened in my head and all because I was letting my expectations of someone get out of line of what they should be. 

How often do we all do this? With our friends…our boyfriends/girlfriends…family…spouses? 

Ever sent a text expecting an immediate reply to something that was not life threatening? And did they reply immediately? Did you get upset when they didn’t meet your expectation? (Raises hand) Guilty as charged, again. 

When your expectations aren’t met, your emotions become the victim. And for many, this begins an emotional roller coaster that you should have never let yourself have admittance to in the first place. 

Setting expectations up for people you have no control over does nothing but set yourself up for failure and disappointment. 

Like I said, this is a huge fault of my own. I hold myself to an extremely high standard, which means I usually hold my friends and family to the same high standard. But it’s not fair to them. And again, when those expectations aren’t met, they aren’t hurt by it, but I may be. 

The more I have thought about this subject, the more I realized there is only one person we should set our expectations high for: God. His word says in Deuteronomy 31:6 Amp “Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.” And it states it again in the New Testament in Hebrews 13:5. In other words, He will never let us down. He will never disappoint. He will never not meet our expectations. In fact, if we let Him, He’ll even exceed our expectations!! 

It’s time to get off of the emotional roller coaster. Make sure your expectations are realistic and quit setting yourself up for hurt. Instead, put those expectations in the One who will never let you down and will always be there for you! You might even find yourself pleasantly surprised by those closest to you – when you stop setting unrealistic expectations for them, it’ll be a lot easier for them to meet and exceed them!

Hello GRACE

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When I wrote Cannonball Faith 517 days ago, I had no idea this is where it would take me or how many people my words, God’s words, would reach. I told God from the beginning, if I did it for just one person to know how valued they are, how precious they are, how beautiful they are, how loved they are, then I would know it was all worth it.

 

The  Lord has shown me bits and pieces here and there, but it wasn’t until a year ago, when I filled out a card at my church for what I would like to volunteer/do, that I really started to see the big picture.

 

At that time, all I knew was that my heart was to work with the teen girls – to help them see that their invaluable worth in God is greater than they could ever know – to help them see what I couldn’t see myself as a young teenager. But when I was pressed for what that actually meant, I wasn’t sure. So I sought God for His direction with my heart’s new found desire.

 

It took longer than I expected – God seemed rather silent on the matter for more than a couple of months. But one night, I gave it all over to Him and found rest in His peace. And in that moment of surrender, I heard the word “Grace” – and just like that GRACE – Girls Rising Above Common Expectations was planted in my heart.

 

Romans 12:1-2 says to not only live a holy and sacred life, but to allow God to transform you instead of conforming to who the world thinks you should be. It is the foundational scripture for GRACE – don’t become who the world thinks you should be, become who God already knows you are. The world has so many pressures and expectations it places on our girls (and boys too): look this way, weigh this much, wear this brand, date this person, do this thing, etc., etc., etc.

 

I wrote out my vision, made it plain, and hid it away – sharing only with a few trusted people. One person I shared it with, whom I admire and trust very much, immediately said “You sound like Lisa Bevere”. That is perhaps the most flattering compliment I’ve ever received in my life!

 

Over the next 9 months (yes I see the irony in that), GRACE grew bigger and bigger inside of me even when things in the natural weren’t going the way I expected them to with it. In fact, in the natural, I was downright discouraged.

 

A dear friend posted the other day, “Don’t be discouraged when people don’t use you. Don’t quit because people don’t use you. Don’t question your calling or anointing because people don’t use you. Don’t crumble and break because people don’t use you. Push harder when people don’t use you. Seek Him more when people don’t use you. After all, I’m used by God and not people anyway! If people don’t use you it’s because God needs you somewhere else and that’s the only place I want to be.” -AO

 

This perfectly summarized how I had felt over the past 9 months but also poignantly put what I had done. When GRACE didn’t happen the way I thought it was going to, I went back to God and said, “I know this is Yours, not mine. So show me what I need to do. Show me what You want for GRACE.” And with that, Guiding GRACE was born..

 

The vision for Guiding GRACE grows bigger within me every day. The things God has shown me, and continues to show me, keep me astounded at God’s goodness in my life! I am so excited for everything that is still to come for Guiding GRACE, but for now, these small steps (that seem so huge), are the first steps towards all that God has for this big vision in this heart of mine.

 

GertieOnline is now GuidingGRACE!! The blog has already reached thousands of people and  36 countries around the world – and it’s just beginning!! God is so good!!

 

Every person that has left a comment, message, email, text, social media share, followed, and even your comments in person – every one of those has meant the world to me and helped me see that yes, THIS, was worth it all!

 

Look for great things in the future from GuidingGRACE and make sure to follow us on social media – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @guidinggrace or direct at http://www.guidinggrace.org 

 

Don’t ever be discouraged because people aren’t using you the way you think they should. Be confident in what God has placed in your heart and press into Him even more – His visions and callings aren’t reliant on other people to make them happen, they’re only reliant on you and your obedience to Him.

 

The Kindness of a Stranger


Picture this: you’re having a bad day. Someone asks you a question and you immediately snap at them. Did they deserve that response? No. Did they snap back at you? Most likely yes.
Perhaps it’s human nature. Or how we’re raised. Or just our own selfish attitudes that immediately tell us to treat others how they are treating us.
Whatever happened to the golden rule?
Do unto others as you would have done to you.

 

We live in a world where being kind to someone for no reason, much less being kind when we’d rather retaliate, is nearly non-existent. And perhaps, dare I say, it’s even rarer to find among the Christian groups/people?
I found myself in this exact situation last week. I had received horrible news that morning that a dear friend, someone I loved very much, had been in a horrible accident and was clinically brain dead.
I mustered enough strength to make it through work that morning. But by lunch, all I could think about was getting away, if even just for a moment.
So I took myself to lunch. As I sat there, all of those emotions from the morning began to well up inside of me. Then after sitting there for 10 minutes with no waitress, another emotion came up: anger. I had a very limited amount of time for lunch and I didn’t have time to waste waiting on a non-existent waitress.
Shortly there after she finally showed up and I was quick to quip a snarky remark about it.
But she didn’t retaliate.
She apologized profusely and very honestly.
She never even hesitated to return my anger with genuine kindness of her own.
I left there thinking of this encounter for the rest of the afternoon.
That waitress had no idea what I was going through, the emotions I was dealing with. And not that it made my actions justifiable, but her kindness did something to me. It changed me.

 

I honestly contemplated going back by the restaurant after work to hug that waitress and apologize for being rude.
The Word says: A gentle answer deflects wrath, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 NLT
I’m still dealing with my own grief, guilt, and what-ifs over the death of my friend, but it doesn’t give me a free pass to take it out on others. And I know for sure, next time someone snaps at me, my first thought will be (or at least should be) – I wonder what they’re going through and how can I help them?
You never know – that person might be dealing with the death of someone they loved dearly. They might be dealing with more than you or I could ever fathom.
Don’t be quick to judge. Don’t be quick to retaliate. Don’t return anger with more anger. Love them. Be kind to them. Do unto them as you would want done unto you.

 

As I prepare to say goodbye to my lifelong friend, I hope to be that kindness to someone else some day. I hope to be the kindness of a stranger in this world.

You Are Enough

  

It’s amazing how at the age of 33, I still allow the voices from my childhood to influence my life today.

When you think back over your past, your history, there are always moments in time that stand out to you – good and bad. You’re history made you who you are today, but it doesn’t have to dictate your future. Silencing the voices of inadequacy in your head are possible, but you have to give in to God first, knowing He made you perfect, just the way you are.

I can remember the day as if it was yesterday. An awkward, and completely average (not overweight) little girl was standing in her friend’s bedroom playing dress up, only to be scolded by the friend’s mother. “Don’t wear that! Take it off now!” You’ll stretch it out!” At 8 years of age, I found myself holding back tears while I was told I wasn’t ‘skinny’ enough to play dress up. I saw myself as ‘different’ and ‘fat’ from that day on.

Fast forward to age 16. Try outs for the youth group band. All my life I had been told I had a gift for singing. My grandmother even called it an anointing. “Your vocal range is amazing! But we just like her better since you haven’t been trained on harmonies.” The consolation from the pianist didn’t help – “You’re a much better singer than her, but it’s a popularity thing; I’m sorry.” From that day on I didn’t see my voice as a gift from God, or anointed; I saw it as “not good enough”.

I’m 19 years old, standing in the parking lot of “B’s” apartment complex, getting ready for him to move to California. He kisses me tenderly and then holds my face in his hands and says to me: “You’re so pretty – but you’d be beautiful if you just lost these round cherub cheeks.” After that moment, I no longer saw myself as pretty or perfect. I looked in the mirror and only saw my flaws – my round cheeks, scars, crooked ears, etc. I saw myself as not pretty enough, not beautiful enough, not perfect enough.

For far too many years, I’ve let those voices from my past take up residence in my present – at many times even tainting my future. These voices in my head, moments in time, words that were said – I allowed them to shape me into who I am today: the girl who battles with her weight, who is self-conscious to sing where others can hear her, who feels unbeautiful, and who feels completely inadequate most of the time to complete what God has put in her heart for G.R.A.C.E.

But something clicked this week. Maybe it was when I realized how stupid it was to worry about my voice. Or perhaps it was when I was reminded, as long as I am in the will of God, then I am the right girl, in the right place, at the right time, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

But the real freedom from these voices came when I sought God for His answer to the voices from my past.

Anytime we accept the idea that we are not enough, we negate all that Christ laid down for us to be whole, perfect, and blameless in the eyes of God. We aren’t just saying “I’m not enough”, we are saying “Jesus, you aren’t enough”. That revelation right there silenced the voices of my past. I never want to diminish or devalue all that God has done for me because He loves me and made me perfect just the way I am.

Psalm 139: 13-16 NLT
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment laid out before a single day had passed.

I heard God say to me – “You are enough for the job you need to do. You are enough for the desires I have put in your heart. You are enough for the man I have for you. YOU ARE ENOUGH!”

Words can hurt, and because we are human, they won’t easily be forgotten – but with the help of God, and knowing you are perfect in Him, you can silence those doubts when they try to take up residence in your thoughts and actions.

So when those voices rise up in your head to say: you aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, or whatever inadequacy you’re facing – remember YOU are enough because God on the inside of you is all you will ever need to be complete and perfect in Him! He doesn’t create subpar works of art – He creates priceless masterpieces.

 

 

No Free Passes


Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives you assurance about things we cannot see.

Christian Misconception No. 1:
When you follow God’s plan, everything will fall in to place and nothing will be difficult.

It’s an absolute misconception nowadays, that most Christians have, that if you are in God’s will and doing what He wants you to do, then you won’t have to work at it or you won’t have any trials along the way. Absolutely untrue. Sometimes I think it takes even more faith to walk out God’s plan for you. God will provide you with just what you need, but at the same time He’ll tell you, “I’ve brought you here, now it’s time for you to exercise your faith for the rest.”

After the wreck that totaled my lovely, paid-off car, I had this plan of my own that I was going to take the settlement from the accident and pay cash for another car. I did NOT want a car payment again. But I also wanted a reliable car that would last me the next 5 years.

So off I went, every night, scouring the used car lots because, let’s face it, you aren’t going to find a new car for $10,000. But what I soon began to realize was I wasn’t going to find a good used car for only $10,000 either.

I had started out on this faith venture gung ho and ready to believe for the right used vehicle. But each night that I would go out looking, I would come back even more discouraged than before. After three weeks of car searching, I was no closer to finding a replacement vehicle than I was the day my car was totaled.

I found myself really having to guard against being flat-out angry at God. I knew His will for me wasn’t to go into debt. But why did it seem that every door was closing when I was looking for a used car?

As I began nearing the end of the month, 3.5wks after the accident, I was at the end of my rope. I no longer had a rental car and was relying on the kindness of others for transportation. The settlement check had come in…but still no car. My sweet father was looking just as hard as I was for something every single day. But every time he’d find something, I wouldn’t have peace about it, or every time I would find something, he wouldn’t have peace about it. I remember one night, lying in bed, crying out to God “It’s not supposed to be THIS HARD!!”. Then, three days before the end of the month, my father suggested “Why not a new car?”.

His argument wasn’t only strong, it was rather convincing. Why sink $10k into a used car that you’re just going to have turn around and replace again in 2 years or make major repairs on? Why not put that money towards a new car, that won’t have problems, that will have a warranty, and you can get just what you want?

I wasn’t completely convinced until I heard my mother say, “Which do you have the faith for? To believe that the used car will have no problems and you won’t have to put any money in to it? Or believe that a brand new, problem-free, car can be paid off?”

That’s when I felt the Holy Spirit rise up inside, reminding me that I was limiting God, once again, by making a decision based on current circumstances instead of basing it on God and His Word – instead of basing it in faith. And with that, I made the decision based on peace.

Within 24hrs of that small revelation, I was sitting inside a dealership, signing the paperwork on my brand new 2015 car. A car, that just as I had prayed almost 4wks earlier, had sought me out…the dealership had just driven the car in from across the state the day before on a trade – it was the exact one I wanted, and the only one like it anywhere. On top of that, I began to see God’s hand at work with the deal – I not only ended up with a negotiated price that was thousands below MSRP, but I also received 0% financing so it would not cost me anything to borrow the remainder of the money. I had instant equity in the car when I drove it off of the lot and I had enough from the settlement to pay for more than half of the car.

So today, I am driving around in my brand new blessing and every day I call her “paid off”! I believe by faith that this was the direction God led me and if this is His plan, then I believe just as strongly that He will provide the way for me to pay this car off. On the same day I signed the papers on the car, I received an unexpected raise – now if that’s not God, I don’t know what is.

Sitting around with a dear friend recently, discussing the recent leap of faith she and her family have taken, I heard the same faith theme as I had just learned myself. Just because you are walking out God’s plan for you, doesn’t mean that everything is going to fall in to place and you aren’t going to have to work for it. It doesn’t mean you aren’t still going to have to believe by faith every single day while you are walking out that plan.

It was absolutely God’s plan for the children of Israel to be led out of slavery in Egypt and in to the promised land.  BUT – even though they were walking out God’s plan for them, they still had to believe daily for God to provide for them. They had to believe for food each day. Shelter and protection each night. Even for their clothes and shoes to keep those 40 years. And 40 years! I know many times they wanted to give up their faith – and many did – but those who didn’t, those who continued to believe and push forward, no matter how hard it got, saw the promised land – they saw God’s promise to them fulfilled!

Remember walking out God’s plan for your life doesn’t give you a pass to sit back and kick your feet up. Walking God’s plan out is going to require more faith than you ever expected – but the reward will be greater than anything you could ever imagine.

The “What-If” Quicksand

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The past three weeks have been perhaps the most stressful and yet biggest opportunity for growth I’ve ever had in my life.

On Easter Sunday, I was t-boned.

It was one of those moments in life where everything slows down, as if watching a movie in slow motion, and yet at the same time, it all happened so fast, I don’t even remember the airbags going off. After the car spun and finally came to a stop, I knew two things: 1. My car was totaled (I knew it even without seeing the damage) and 2. I knew this was absolutely not my fault and I was accepting nothing less than that.

After I managed to crawl out the passenger side of my car (in a short dress and heels no less – it was Easter after all) shock set in as anger, panic, and fear began to try and take root.

Then, the ‘what-ifs” started.

What if I had gone to church that Sunday with my parents instead of attending my church first?

What if I hadn’t gone back inside my church to talk to someone afterwards, delaying me just a few moments more?

What if I had taken a different route?

What if, what if, what if………

I was drowning fast in the quicksand of ‘what-ifs’.

I’m sure my mother saw the panic setting in as I began to slowly meltdown sitting in the speaker’s room at church. But her kind words brought me back (even if it was just a little bit back) – “Forgive him. Walk in forgiveness. Walk in love.”  (Although she admitted later she was having just as hard of a time doing the exact same thing – and she wasn’t even in the car with me).

I can not even count how many times I have repeated this to myself over the past three weeks. Sometimes just in my head. Sometimes under my breath. Sometimes nearly screaming it at myself. But none-the-less, I have confessed it nearly every day.

Within an hour of the accident, I could already see God working on me. Some of those “what-ifs” turned to “thank you Lord!”s. Like – “what if my front airbag had gone off where my hand was on the horn?” became “Thank you Lord that there are NO BROKEN BONES! Thank you Lord that I walked away!” “What if he had hit my door instead of the back door?” became “Thank you Lord that Your guardian angels kept him from hitting my door.”

But, just because God is working on you, doesn’t mean satan still doesn’t try to take that joy away. It wasn’t too many more minutes after that when the worry began to creep in.

What am I going to do? How am I going to afford another car? How am I even going to get to work tomorrow? (Yup, that’s me – the practical one).

Over the next few days I began to have a new revelation of worry, regret, and resting in God.

You see – the more “what-if” thoughts I entertained, the more I began to see regret and worry try to take over. “What-ifs” over decisions already made, is nothing but REGRET. And “what-ifs” about future decision,  not yet made, is nothing but WORRY.

But what does the Word say about this all?

Cast your cares over on to God for He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7).

And if God cares so much for the smallest of creatures in His creation, how much more so does He care for you?! He will provide for you so don’t let worry take over! (Matthew 6).

I began to realize that not only was I drowning in the “what-if” quicksand of regrets, but I was already putting stock in “what-if” worry that hadn’t even happened yet. “What if I meet someone tomorrow, get married, and have a baby – I’d need a bigger, more practical vehicle?”, “What if my finances don’t continue to improve and I’m stuck with a car payment?”, “What if the insurance company offers me pennies on the dollar value for my car?”….what if, what if, what if.

And that’s when it really hit me…I wasn’t just living this moment in the “what-ifs”, I had been living the last 12yrs of my life based on “what-ifs”!  I’ve been living my life putting more faith in fear of the unknown than putting faith in God, the known!

There’s only one thing that can pull you out of this downward spiral of drowning in what-if quicksand – God. This is where you have to cast those cares over on to Him. You have to trust that He loves you so much, He will take care of you and won’t let you want for anything. This is where you have to say enough is enough – I won’t put faith in worry anymore. I won’t live a life paralyzed by “what-ifs”.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Heck, let’s face it…things very rarely go according to OUR plan. But God…God’s always got a plan that is bigger and better than ours, and He’s standing at attention, ready to take over the moment we say “not I Lord, but You!”  “Not my care Lord – I give it all over to you!”

We’re now 3 weeks out from the accident. Praise God I’m getting better every day, less sore, and I’m learning to put faith in Him instead of in the “what-ifs”. Praise God for His over and above blessings and a great testimony and lesson from this all.

Do I have it all figured out yet? Of course not. But God does and His plan is far superior to mine! I’m ready to use His word as a bridge over this quicksand of “what-if”, worry and regret, and move forward in to the blessing He has waiting for me!

Love Goggles

 

  
Love is blind.”

I’m sure that’s a quote you’ve heard more than once in your lifetime. You might not believe it to be true, but take a quick stroll through your local Walmart and I’m sure you’ll find at least one couple that makes you scratch your head and go “What did they ever see in that person to fall in love?!”

They had love goggles on!

What are they, you ask? I’d like to think they are a better (and Christian approved) version of beer goggles…you know, the eyes a drunk person sees someone through after one too many drinks, when they think everyone is just amazing. Now take that, but minus the feeling/need to distort reality, via alcohol – and you’ve got love goggles my dear readers.

But how does this pertain to love? Do we have to be drunk to fall in love with, dare I say, the unlovable? No, of course not!

1. I’m a firm believer that there is someone for everyone.
2. Love isn’t blind – it’s just got “love goggles” on.

On one of those fun outings to Walmart, I saw a very unconventional couple. A tall, skinny, well dressed, and good looking guy with a wife who weighed easily 350lbs, tattoos galore, clothes that were wrinkled and stained, and hair that was more unkempt than a rat’s nest. Does that paint a picture for you of how odd a couple this was to see?

As I walked passed them, I found that I was comparing myself to this woman I didn’t even know, and asking God the whys:

Me: Ok, if SHE can find someone, then what the heck is wrong with me? I guess love really is blind if HE can love someone like THAT.
God: Love isn’t blind. It simply allows you to see the beauty in everything. When you see people through MY love, you’ll see them the way I do – you’ll see the unique beauty that each person holds because I created them!

I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. It took me a few minutes to fully grasp what I had just heard, what I had just received a rhema on.

“Love isn’t blind. It simply allows us to see the beauty (God’s beauty) in everything!” This might be one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard from God. Definitely in my top five.

The inmate in prison. The soldier that returns from war without his limbs. The woman who was disfigured in an accident. The sinner on the sidewalk. Get off of your high horse! Not one of us is more righteous than the other. We are all sinners saved by grace and transformed by His love. The easiest thing to do in life is judge a book by its cover – or a person by their outward appearance. But when we do that, not only are we not showing God’s love, but we aren’t seeing with His love either.

God created each of us in His image. We might, along the path of our life and free will, make decisions that may alter our appearances in negative ways (I type this as I’m munching on salt & vinegar chips, even though I’m supposed to be low-carbing it right now). But no matter the changes our body and outter appearance go through, God will always see us as He created us – He’ll always see our heart and our true beauty.

I challenge you all, this week, to put this to work in your own lives. Stop seeing only the outward appearance. Stop looking at the circumstances – past and present. Stop seeing people with your worldly eyes. See people through God’s eyes this week. See them through His eyes of love. I’m not talking about passionate Eros love; I’m talking about compassionate Philia and Agape love. Determine now to see the beauty in all of God’s creations. I promise, if you set in your heart and mind to do this, not only will your view of people change and your heart expand, but it will rock your world in a way only God can!