Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about expectations these days.

I knew you all were expecting me to post an entry here on Groundwork for Grace. You were probably waiting on pins and needles, right?? (You don't have to answer'll pop my bubble!) We had to unplug the computer for a few days while the carpets were cleaned, but we're back on-line now, and I'm proud to say I navigated my way to the back storage areas of Blogger all by myself! No techno-geek husband help required!

I was expecting a big..HUGE..been hearing about it for days... storm here in Holland today. I stocked up on food, toilet paper, Christmas cookie ingredients...I was ready!! Humph..I don't know what happened up in Grand Haven, but here in Holland...ppfffttt...we got nothin'..zilch...nada..
My kids were expecting a great day of fun in the snow and instead it was like playing in a giant slurpee. They came in soaking wet, but I didn't mind too much as it gave me time to work on some of my Christmas preparations.

We're hosting Christmas at our house this year. My brother and his family will be coming in from Washington D.C. and my parents will come from the Chicago area....12 people and 4 dogs at our house for 4 days. Paul can hardly wait!!!! He loves lots of noise and chaos and dogs running everywhere....or not. He does, however, love me and my family. So he's trying to stay positive. As I worked on my menu and tried to come up with ideas of things to do together, I began to formulate these Norman Rockwell images in my mind.....good conversations around the dinner table, the cousins playing nicely together, playing cards at night, working a puzzle in front of the fire. Everything was looking swell in my mind until I came to Christmas Eve. That's when I realized that I had better check my expectations at the door.

You see, no one in my extended family knows the Lord. And... my brother and his wife parent very differently than we do, which sometimes causes tension. sister-in-law (who I love) is a rather emotional person whose moods can either make or break an entire day. Holidays can be stressful! So while I know how I would like our time together this Christmas to turn out, in reality I have no idea what lies ahead. If I haven't lost you by now, raise your hand if you can relate.

We all have expectations..if not for Christmas, then for our lives. We expect certain outcomes to situations we encounter and certain behaviors from our friends, our children, even our God. So what happens if those expectations aren't met? How should we respond?

I was reminded this week, while reading an Advent story to my girls, that even though God had told Israel exactly how he was planning to send their Messiah, many had other expectations about how their rescuer should arrive and what He should do when he got there. And what about Mary? She was having an ordinary day expecting to marry the love of her life when overnight her whole life changed.....Joseph's too.

Is your response to failed expectations like hers? She called herself a bondslave of the Lord and trusted in her Master. We may not know what lies ahead, but our Father in Heaven does. We may be surprised by the events in our lives, but He is not. Mary goes on to rejoice in God her Savior...she tells of His mercy, how it is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. She recalls his mighty deeds and ends by remebering how He spoke to Abraham and his descendants forever. Hmmmmm...that sounds strangely familiar. Anyone remember our memory verse? Psalm 115? Anyone???

Kristen shared in one of her previous Bible studies that we should picture ourselves with a yoke across our shoulders carrying a pair of buckets, one at each end. Whatever is in those buckets will spill out onto others around us when we trip..or stumble..or bump into someone or something...when our expectations aren't met. If your buckets are full of stress, anger, despair, crabbiness...or yourself, that's what others will experience. BUT, if you buckets are full of God's word, His love, the fruits of His spirit...well, you get the picture!

Advent seems a great time to get rid of our own ideas about who He is and what He should do for us and focus on the real Jesus of Scripture. My wish for you these next few weeks is that you would take some time each day to focus on the fill your buckets with truth about who He is, what He has done for you, how He wants you to respond. Fill your buckets to the brim with the character of Christ...and then spill it all over everyone around you as you bump your way through the holidays.

I'll pray for your buckets, if you'll pray for mine!

Grateful for Immanuel...God with us!!


  1. It's so true, Beth. What's inside the cup comes spilling out when it gets bumped. May our cups be filled with gentleness, patience, kindness, meekness, forbearance, when we get unexpectedly bumped...only the Prince of Peace comes out.

  2. Yay, Beth! I am so proud of you! Did a quick check this morning and was blessed with your blog - YOU NEED TO DO THIS MORE OFTEN!!!

    Chicago is COLD (it was 1 degree last I checked) and I am a bit jealous of my children's snow days while I am gone - they are happy and having fun with Patti O'Connor, so I know they are loved. We're having a great time together and tonight we are going out to the 'burbs to see Mandisa and Beth Moore at Harvest Elgin (actually, I will go to the concert and Dave will hang with James). Then home tomorrow...

    I do need a bucket check - it always seems like I know what's in my buckets until they spill and I am surprised what comes out. Because of natural evaporation, we need to be constantly filling and not thinking that filling once a week is sufficient. Top it off every day with Jesus, is my new saying!

    Thanks for posting - I'll be praying for your family visit and your buckets as well...


  3. Oh Kathy...I would love it if the Prince of Peace was what came spilling out each and every time!

    Hi Kristen!! I don't miss the cold temps of Chicago..nothing was more frustrating as a child than to have snow and have it be too cold to go out and play in it. Do you have a lot of snow down there? I'm glad you and Dave are having a great time. I was thinking you should make him take you on one of those romantic horse drawn carriage rides around the know the one I mean..the white horse, the warm fur blanket. I was even going to suggest you ask the driver to take your picture..and suggest you lift your leg! That was before I knew it was 1 degree. Oh well. Guess you'll have to leave all that romantic stuff to Katherine and Austin. Seeing Mandisa and Beth Moore sounds like a much better (and warmer) alternative!
    Be safe coming home!

  4. This whole "Kristen-lifting-her-leg" thing is painting a picture that is not clearly defined without reading the blog...oh well, I guess that's the price of blogging!

    Not much snow down here - first night there was a whole bunch of rain, the second night a dusting and today, just cold. The good news about being in cold like this is that it makes the twenties and thirties feel like a heat wave...

  5. Yes Beth, you should be blogging more often. Your post was well worth the wait...

    Kristen, Marion will be so excited when I tell her you went to hear Beth Moore. She just finished a study in her home with three gals using a Beth Moore study.

    Blogging can be costly...smiling, again...

  6. Through this blizzard I want you to know my hand is lifted up SO HIGH. Yes, me too on family that does not know the Lord, and extreme diffrences in parenting too. It occured to me though, that your buckets are full of the Lord - your hospitality, warm smile and well planned evening all in service to others out of love, despite your diffrences.

    Make no mistake, those who do not know Him watch you and *see* what God has given to you. They may not readily admit that they notice, but they do. So expect those bumps, but remember that you have been given a gift, one that does not go unnoticed! ;-)

  7. Kristen, I knew the whole lifting your leg comment might not be fully understood by those who haven't been following, but I typed it anyway and giggled as I hit the period at the end.

    Small voice, Your comments are very kind and I will remember that it is indeed both a gift He has given me and a gift to be able to shine for Him.

  8. I thought I heard a giggle when I opened the blog...