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Crashing into Reality

Vacations end. We come crashing into reality. What do we do with all that stress?

Don’t you just love vacations? We get to cast our cares aside, just be present in the moment with our family. We know it ends, crashing into reality, but we hold onto vacation as long as we can. Vacations views are clear and bright at the beach.

This year we were blessed by a decadent beach getaway with my in-laws. We had this tremendous view everyday from the covered porch.

Packing clothes was a waste of time. We spent 90% of the time in swimsuits, damp and sun-baked, but we loved every second.

Even bad weather was more exciting. Our family spent an afternoon watching water spouts, but happily they just hovered on the horizon, far away, nothing to worry about, a bit like real life seems while we’re on vacation.Storms of life in the distance during vacation before we come crashing into reality.

We were driving home sandy and tired, but joyful. Family time had been the priority the entire week. Even phones got put down. We had literally done not much more than eat and swim for a week.

I was singing along to the radio, asking the kids about their favorite memories from the week, trying to hold onto the joy and lightness as long as possible, but I didn’t even make it home before reality invaded our vacation high.

*CRACK*! My husband and I flinched. Something had hit the car.

Quickly, we saw our brand new windshield had cracked, worse than the damage we had initially repaired just days before leaving for vacation.

Vacations end. We come crashing into reality. What do we do with all that stress? And just like that I was crashing into reality:

  • a second $250 deductible in 2 wks
  • $120 we just spent replacing a new tire weeks ago
  • a $400 for yearly termite treatment I had forgotten
  • $500 surgery for our dog (that might not even save her life) after the $350 vet bill
  • a $700 bill for our home warranty
  • plus added expenses of summer vacation/ having the boys right after I unexpectedly lost my job.

My emotions started into hyper-drive, but I knew this was an opportunity to reflect Christ or the world. If I trust that every good thing comes from God, and He can use everything to my good (Romans 8:28), then I have to trust even this is good whether I know His reasoning or not.

James 1:2-3 ESV “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

I felt like this moment was a test, so I held my tongue until I could control it. Tears welled behind my sunglasses, but I kept silent. I had a chance to demonstrate my trust in God. I took a deep breath and prayed instead of panicked, remembering –

Matthew 6:28-30 ESV “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

A few miles down the road, I commented how it was frustrating, but not worth getting upset about, held my husband’s hand, and turned up the radio.

God has provided for us in everything so faithfully.

Last year, some vandals left our outdoor spigot running for several days before we realized it. Our bill was about $120 more than normal. I prayed for peace. In the mail the next day was a refund from an old rental insurance policy, for $122, almost the exact amount felt like a gift from God even if the check said USAA.

We’ve never been in such dire need that we couldn’t meet our obligations. He has sent blessings through others when we needed some extra loving financially and emotionally.

I don’t know yet how God will provide, or what lesson He is teaching, or direction He is pointing. I don’t even know if my family even noticed my refusal to freak out, but I know I was obedient in that moment.

Reality tried to crash my party, but my trust in God didn’t let it. Life is tough. Expecting it to be easy is folly, especially as a Christian.

1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

God didn’t promise me that I would always have a pantry full of organic groceries. He didn’t promise me a brand new window every time it gets dinged. He doesn’t even promise us safety or security, only that every trial will refine us and lasting joy in his kingdom, the kind that doesn’t fade when the vacation bubble bursts.

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Expectations Ruin Reality

Do we let unreasonable expectations get in the way of enjoying our real life? Heaven Not Harvard

Expectations are sneaky buggers. They are formed by Hallmark cards and romantic movies, but rarely are they realistic. Those champagne and caviar expectations often ruin the best parts of reality.

It has been a week since Mother’s Day, and I have seen so many people struggling with their relationships over a holiday that is supposed to be about honor and love.

How do we take a day of feeling celebrated and turn it into a burr between us and our families?

Our expectations ruin reality because we build up inflated expectations and life can’t measure up. Instead of offering grace, love, and gentleness, we hurt each other.

I sadly remember all the Valentine’s Days, birthdays, and anniversaries that turned into balls of hurt in my house because of my expectations that didn’t offer any grace to the love of my life.How many holidays have been ruined by expectations? Do we let unreasonable expectations get in the way of enjoying our real life?

A few years ago, my birthday had been pretty low-key, a fine day, but I couldn’t get over my disappointment at not receiving any kind of gift. After debating with myself about telling him how I felt, I decided not to say anything and be grateful for all the blessings I had.

Five minutes later, he came out from the bedroom with a jewelry set he had purchased months earlier. It was special hypoallergenic gold due to my bizarre metal allergy. I felt like such a jerk. I almost let my unmet expectations ruin his surprise. I almost missed a real expression of his love for me because I wanted to dictate what it should look like.

This Mother’s Day, I didn’t wake up to a perfect bouquet or breakfast in bed. But my day was just right. Why? What changed? Me. I did. I stopped placing my value and worth as a mother in the hands of my husband. I would love a moment of recognition from him, but I don’t need it.

Ephesians 3:17-19 ESV “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . . and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

I have learned to let God’s love fill me so that I overflow with His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

So I set my expectations this year on what I wanted for myself on this day. I wanted a day of being the mom I really want to be everyday: fun, patient, kind.

I wanted to not use this holiday as a weapon against my exhausted husband, measuring my worth or value by how much of a fuss he made over me. It doesn’t feel like a gift if he feels unloved and obligated.

I don't want to use this holiday as a weapon. Expectations ruin reality. Click To Tweet

Does it really measure my worth or his love if he doesn’t roll out the red carpet and ticker tape parade on this one calendar day?

I didn’t want to feel disappointed and resentful, so I stopped having expectations. BEING a mother was the one thing I wanted for decades. Spending the day enjoying being a mother was the perfect way to remind myself how much I love these people!

When I quit having expectations, I got to see more fully who my husband is, appreciating and loving him, and letting us both live in the joy of the moment.

He didn’t make me breakfast in bed, so he could ask me what I would like. He didn’t buy me a gift, but researched a special place for me to choose exactly what I wanted. He spent his afternoon cleaning out the pool so I could have the first swim of the year. His quiet thoughtfulness was more precious to me than any gift.

I almost missed the real gifts because of my expectations.

Sometimes we feel invisible and ignored. No one sees us up at midnight, straightening the living room or washing dishes. Laundry magically folds itself and finds its way back into drawers, or maybe you magically earn the paycheck that keeps your house from belonging to the bank.

One or two days a year doesn’t change who you are and won’t heal days you were taken for granted or ignored. But rest assured . . .

Matthew 5:14 ESV “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Don’t let the darkness of envy and materialism steal true joy from your grasp. Even on this side of heaven, jewelry and flowers pale in comparison to help with the dishes.

2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV “As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Focus on the eternal blessings, and you might realize you had the wrong expectations in the first place.

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