Palm Sunday – Our Expectations

Palm Sunday is this weekend. I think of the Lord Jesus riding into the city on a donkey, the people waving palms and cheering. They heralded Jesus as their savior, their King, mistakenly thinking he was going to set them free from Roman rule. But their expectations turned to disappointment, anger and eventually led Jesus to the cross.

How many times have my expectations led me to disappointment and frustration, even anger? Especially when the holidays come around, I expect loved ones to want to participate in the festivities, enjoy a nice family get-together, and that everything go smoothly. Yet, how many times does it really work out the way I expect? There is always some kink, some challenge that threatens to ruin everything if I let it.

Then I become frustrated and upset when others don’t live up to my expectations. Who really is to blame for my unhappiness? Me, of course! If I learn to live and let live, all is well. All I can do is extend the invitation – no strings, no guilt, no pressure.

Jesus did not come to set the people free from Roman rule. He came to set them free from themselves. He wants to do the same for us today. He wants to set us free from our expectations so that we can let others be free as well. Jesus said in Luke 19:42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.”

What is it this season that is stealing your peace? Is it expectations of others? Yourself? God does not have expectations of us. He knows and accepts us just as we are. Would we not do well to act the same towards those we love?

Until next time, keep looking up!

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Our Pain – Blessing or Curse?

My knee starts hurting and I have to take a break from jogging. My foot aches and I need to buy arch supports and lower heels. My blood pressure is high and I need to relax more. Seems like it’s always something these days. Can you relate?

Pain gets my attention for sure. When birthing my two sons, there was no way I was going to “tough it out”. “Give me some pain medicine,” I said clutching my doctor’s arm when those contractions hit their crescendo. I do not like pain.

Pain comes in different forms: physical, emotional, mental. Perhaps it is a broken bone, a wounded relationship or a fractured thought pattern.

But most pain has a purpose – to get my attention and to teach me something. Pain slows me down and gets me to focus on the problem area. It interupts my daily activities and changes my priorities. If seen from this perspective, pain can be a blessing. It is a warning sign that something is wrong and needs attention.

Of course, I can always ignore the warning signs and carry on along my merry way, but that is usuallly not wise. Proverbs 27:12 (NLT)says “The prudent forsees danger and takes precautions, but the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

So it all depends on how we view our pain. We can moan and complain or we can do something about it. I like to say “Don’waste the pain – learn from it.” And finally, pain gives us compassion for others. Everyone is hurting in some way and when we hurt, we are able to empathize more with what others are going through.

Let me know what you are going through that is painful and I hope this encourages you to persevere and look for the good. Until next time, keep looking up!

Is it Really Luck?

About three few weeks ago, I went for a hike at the park near my home. My cell phone rang and apparently, as I was taking it out of my pocket, my prescription sunglass overlay fell out of my pocket, unbeknownst to me. When I discovered the loss, I was quite perturbed. I circled back on the trail to try to find my glasses, but it was getting dark and the park was ready to close. No luck. The next day, I came out again to retrace my steps in hopes of finding the glasses – still, no luck.

I prayed and prayed. I decided to let the issue go and not fret over it. What was done was done, and it was my fault for not paying attention anyway.

So this past sunday was a lovely day and I decided to go for another hike. Something told me to stop in at the Nature Center. “Do you happen to have a lost and found? I was on the trail a few weeks ago and lost my prescription sunglass overlay. I was wondering if anyone had found them,” I explained to the young lady at the desk.

“Wait here and I’ll check,” she said. Now, after 3 weeks, I didn’t want to get my hopes up that the glasses would be there. I decided to remain calm and wait it faith while she checked.

The young lady emerged looking pretty solemn. Then she raised her hand which held – guess what? My prescription sunglass overlay! Now what are the chances of that? They were intact and not even scratched. I burst out with joy and thanked her profusely.

Now, some call this fate, some call it luck; I call it God. I was teary-eyed as I left the Nature Center. To me, it was God’s grace in action once again. He cares about everything we care about, everything that troubles us. “Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

What is it that you are fretting about, dear one? Is it a job situation, a loss of some sort, or perhaps a financial issue? Rest in His loving arms, because He does care for you, more than you can ever imagine. When we have done all we can about a situation, it is best to give it up to God and let Him handle it. He can and will!

Drop me a note and let me know what you think of this story and if anything like this has ever happened to you. In the meantime, trust God and keep looking up!

The Waiting Game

What is it that you have been waiting for? A spouse, a job, a new house, to have a baby perhaps? Most people are waiting for something. As I explained to my youngest, who has been job hunting for several months, waiting is a big part of life. The key is to learn how to wait.

Over the years, I have realized there are a few techniques that help during my periods of waiting and I thought I would share them with you today.

The first technique is to wait in FAITH. In other words, to have faith that what I am waiting for is going to come my way eventually. This is a requirement to receiving. If I doubt or have a negative attitude, I slow down and pretty much cancel the flow of good things into my life.

Secondly, and I know this might seem counter-intuitive, but it is true, I must learn to SURRENDER the desire for whatever it is I am waiting for. When we want something we tend to think or talk about it constantly. This is known as obsessing and is NOT conducive to receiving either.

For example, if I am waiting for a boyfriend, let’s say. And every time I go out, I size up every male that walks by and worry about how I look. This behavior falls into the obsessing category. I know many women who do this. Their entire conversation consists of talking about this or that guy. By surrendering my desires, I am saying, in effect, “Lord, I trust that you know what is best for me. I trust you to bring good things into my life in Your perfect timing and I will be content in the meantime and happy with what I have in my life today.”

Thirdly, while I am waiting, I need to SERVE others in some way, shape or form. I can’t just sit back and bemoan my state. This is not pleasing to God. God does not like complainers or whiners, as evidenced by the Israelites who never made it to the Promised Land because of their griping. I must get out there and do something of service to help other people. To paraphrase Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer, “If I help someone get what they want, God will make sure I get what I want”.

So dear reader, I hope these techniques give you some ideas on how to wait and still enjoy your life. Write and share with me what you are waiting for and what you are doing while you are waiting. In the meantime, keep looking up!

Which Direction Are You Going?

Has this ever happened to you? I was driving home today after a long weekend out of town and had my GPS all programmed to take me home. I must have been focusing on something besides the road signs, so when my GPS said “Take exit right” I did just that, not realizing that it was the wrong direction. “You’ve done this before. You have to pay attention to the signs” I thought to myself, the voice of judgement bearing down hard.

My GPS quickly recalculated – “Take exit right”. Then I saw the toll sign. “Bummer, I have to pay a toll for taking the wrong exit.” My aggravation level went up another notch. I passed through the toll booth. “Turn left” my GPS announced: no road sign, no green highway sign. Doubting, I honked at the car next to me to confirm the road. “Yes, this is correct. Do you have exact change?” – another toll and I hadn’t been on the road for more than a minute. As I paid the second toll, I knew I was to blame for not paying attention in the first place.

The reason I am relaying this story is because I realize I do this on the road of life as well. I don’t pay close enough attention and end up going in the wrong direction. Then I have to pay the toll. The sorry thing is I think I am going in the right direction and listening to the right voice. But I ignore the signs. And boy have I paid a price.

But the good news is, the wrong turn only took me a few miles out of the way. I quickly identified the error in judgement and immediately took action to go in the right direction. Yes, it only takes a minute to get off course. But with the Lord in the driver’s seat, we can get back in the right direction.

Which direction are you going in, dear one? Have you made a wrong turn in life? It is never too late to change direction. “This is the way, walk ye in it” says Isaiah 30:21. The Lord is always ready to show us the path of righteousness but it is up to us to take the steps to go in His direction!