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Entries in Expectations (4)


My Hope Is Built On . . . 

Everyone talks about "dreams" these days, but Susan K. Stewart says we need to be careful when we dream and consider where we're placing our hopes. In this Spiritual Life UPLIFT, she tackles the topic with a personal story.

“I plan to go to UCLA and major in screenwriting,” the high school freshman announced.

She then laid out her plan, including what classes she would be taking in high school and community activities that will help her preparation for her goal.

Ah, plans. Yes, I (Dawn) have placed my hopes in so many personal plans, and even in people who might help me accomplish my goals. And I've learned, the hard way, exactly what Susan is about to teach us.

Susan continues . . .

“Wow! That’s wonderful,” I responded. “It seems to me you just might make it.”

When this confident young lady left the room, her dad said, “I want her to major in something that will give her a real career.”

“What!?” was all I could stammer. “What’s wrong with her goal? With her determination, she has a good chance of success.”

The response was, “Look what happened to Aunt Shirley.”

Aunt Shirley is a divorced family member who was a successful writer before the divorce, and was now struggling to make ends meet with two part-time jobs.

Has that ever happened to you? It has to me.

Why do we do that?

Compare someone’s (or our own) dream with another person’s failure.

Sometimes we sabotage our own hopes. We listen to our own negative talk.

  • “It can’t happen."
  • "I’m too old."
  • "I’m too young."
  • "No one else has ever done this before.”

Other times we have our hope in the wrong thing: education, another person, fortune, ourselves.

All of these sources of hope will fail us.

An archaic definition of hope is “trust, reliance.” Most often we think of our hope as the anticipation of something. We also build our dreams on what we or others are going to do for the fruition of that expectation.

If hope is in fact trust rather than dream, maybe our hopes are dashed because we have placed our trust in the wrong place or person.

We are told by Paul that Christ Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1). Not our dream or expectation, although we surely look forward to the coming of Jesus. Christ Jesus is where we place our trust; who we rely on.

We are told by Peter to “prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

We are to TAKE ACTION BASED ON OUR HOPE (trust) on the GRACE of Jesus Christ.

When our expectations are based on hope from Jesus, we can’t sabotage them.

This requires taking those dreams to God before making all the plans on our own to-do list.

For years, I’ve had a dream of a having a specific book published. For years, my hopes have been built up only to be knocked down. This year I asked God, "Why?"

He impressed on me that I was trusting in my own plan, not the dreams He has for me.

I laid my desire aside. Even though a number of people gave me reasons not to, it was the right thing to do. I’m now trusting God’s vision for me rather than mine.

I’ve placed my hope in God’s dream.

When our hope—remember, that means trust and reliance—is in the Lord, no one can take them it away from us or talk us out of it. We will be able respond to negative self-talk with “God told me to do this and I trust him.”

What is your hope is built on?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

~ Edward Mote (1797-1874)

Susan K. Stewart—when she’s not tending chickens and donkeys—teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Her passion is to inspire others with practical, real-world solutions. Susan's books include Science in the Kitchen; Preschool: At What Cost?; the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers; and her most recent book, Harried Homeschoolers Handbook. Learn more about Susan at Practical Inspirations

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Daniel Reche at Pixabay.


Bless Your Spouse with Some Guilt-free Time

Kathi Lipp is a project-oriented gal with a lot of wisdom, whether she’s speaking and writing about marriage, personal development or a host of other things. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she encourages us to reconsider our spouse’s “just got home” need.

“When Roger and I got married, we each contributed two teenagers to the mix; but I came with the bonus – Zorro, the cat with attitude,” Kathi said. “Zorro’s main challenge in life is that he doesn’t get along – with anyone.”

What’s a cat got to do with marriage? I (Dawn) wondered. Turns out, a lot. At least for Kathi and Roger!

Kathi continues . . .

Zorro was condemned to a James Dean existence – a “live fast, die young, and leave a trail of wounded kitties in your dust” kind of legacy. That is, until I met Roger.

Roger is not a cat lover.

Roger and Zorro became roommates by default, and neither of their lives has been the same since. You see, Zorro is in love with Roger. My cat’s favorite part of every day is when Roger comes to that front door.

Zorro’s whole goal is to get Roger upstairs and lying down on her bed so they can catch a 15-minute nap together.

It really is a little weird.

But what Zorro figured out long before I did was that Roger needs that quick lie-down to transition from work to home. While I know my husband could do without the cat in his “catnap,” that crazy kitty helped us discover a great transitional routine that leads to a relaxed Roger.

I do my best to protect Roger and his 15-30 minutes. I make it a priority for him to transition. And he does the same for me. While my time doesn’t involve snuggling with the cat, I usually need something from Roger. Once he’s had a few minutes to decompress and wind down, my husband is so much more equipped to meet my needs.

In most homes, I know it’s a tense standoff where everyone is working hard and all the adults are tired at the end of a very long day. This is where it’s critical to put our spouse’s needs above our own.

It’s imperative to not just focus on how stressful our day has been, but to imagine what our partner has gone through in his or her day.

Have you ever been in a conversation with one-upman? You know the type. It doesn’t matter how bad your day was, this person’s day was just a little bit worse. If you stub your toe, he broke his. If your husband barbecued, her husband went out and slaughtered the cow.

Let’s leave the martyr at the door.

That’s one of the benefits of being married – having a soft place to land at the end of a long day. But in order for that to happen, I must be willing to lay down some of my rights and expectations so I can be that soft place for my spouse.

Romans 12:3 says:

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

We need to recognize that whatever role God has called us to, our spouse has a role as well – just as important, just as needed in the body of Christ. And at the end of the day, much is required from each of us.

The surest way to bring peace to everyone in the household is to give just a little by putting the other person’s needs in front of our own. How?

Get creative!

1. Ask your spouse what he or she needs.  

Asking what your partner needs will avoid the counterproductive situation of assuming what is restful and rejuvenating to you is the same thing your spouse is dreaming of.

2. Sometimes quiet is not what your love is hoping for. Maybe he wants some uninterrupted time, just with you. Be sure to ask.

3. Are you home with the kids when your mate gets home? If it won’t interrupt nap or dinner routines, what about taking the kids with you to run some simple errands and give your spouse some quiet time?

4. Don’t be offended if your mate does enjoy a little quiet reprieve; it’s not about getting away from you. Promise.

How can you bless your husband with 30 minutes of guilt-free time today?

Article adapted from Happy Habits for Every Couple by Kathi Lipp (Harvest House Publishers).

Kathi Lipp is the author of 13 books, including Clutter Free: The Get Yourself Organized Project, Happy Habits for Every Couple, and I Need Some Help Here: Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan. She’s the host of “You’ve Got This! With Kathi Lipp. She is a well-respected national conference speaker and has been featured on Focus on the Family, POPS International, and Nickelodeon TV’s Parent Connect. Kathi and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, California. More about Kathi here and on her blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of gustavobelemmi, morguefile.


Upgrade Your Expectations

Kathy Carlton Willis shines as she encourages writers and speakers, but she has insight to share with all of us about expectations in this attitude UPGRADE.

"Don’t worry. We all have them. Unmet expectations, unrealistic expectations, unhealthy expectations. These lead to disappointment—in others, in ourselves, even in God," Kathy says.

The Bible says, "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12) and, believe me, I've been heartsick over unmet expectations during my lifetime - especially as a young woman. I wish I'd known some of the things Kathy shares in this post.

Kathy continues ...

Sometimes expectations are based on what we want to see happen—no matter how unrealistic. Other times our expectations are based on what another person has promised. But not everyone carries out his or her promises.

What to Do:

  1. Pre-plan a healthy way to handle your expectations. It’s impossible to have a godly response in the heat of the moment without having a predetermined course of action.
  2. Focus on the difference between reactions and responses. Reactions are based on emotional reflexes and are governed by the heart. Responses are based on disciplined actions and are led by the Spirit.
  3. Disengage your feelings from the response so you’re not allowing others to push your buttons. (And we all have buttons—usually a mix-matched set!) Take it out of the realm of feelings and put it in the realm of godly thoughts and actions.
  4. Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment.
  5. When a situation arises, be intentional rather than irrational. Remove yourself for a timeout if you need to disconnect from your feelings. Refocus on what Christ’s response would be. Being intentional means you have a strategy in place ahead of time, and you act on that strategy. This is called reframing your thoughts.

The Problem with Expectations:

Often our expectations of others are another form of judging motives and intentions. We forget to offer unconditional love, extend grace, give the benefit of the doubt and practice The Golden Rule. It’s easier to assume, expect, and judge.

When we expect something outside of our control, we set ourselves up for all sorts of frustrating emotions, and it doesn't help us or the one on whom we’re projecting our expectations.

Bible Remedies for Expectations:

Philippians 4:6-7, The Message:

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

  • How can your expectations be a cause of anxiety?
  • What is to accompany your prayers and supplications?
  • What do you need to let God know about?
  • What does God promise that His peace will do for you?

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT):

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!"

  • What can you expect God to give you when you truly trust in Him?
  • When you focus on the unmet expectations, you overlook all the amazing stuff that God is doing in your life and in the world.

Prayer Points:

  • When you have unmet expectations, take them to Jesus.
  • Allow your unmet expectations to draw you closer to the One who can do “abundantly more than all you can ask or imagine.”
  • Focus on the ways Jesus exceeds our expectations. He has eternity in mind, not just today.

What one thing can you take away from this to try as preventative maintenance so you upgrade the way you handle unmet or unrealistic expectations?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. Her article today is an excerpt from Speaker to Speaker: The Essential Speaker’s Companion (Oaktara Publishing, to be released later in 2014). Kathy is also a publicist with Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. She and her husband/pastor, Russ, live in Texas.

Image in Text adapted, courtesy of Stuart Miles/


Being a Happy Wife - Even When He Doesn't Make Me Feel Happy

Got 31 days? Arlene Pellicane will help you grow! In her most recent book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife, she talks about husbands who don’t live up to our expectations … but she gives us hope. Upgrading our marriage has more to do with choice than circumstances. She says,

“What if want your husband to make you smile, but he isn’t giving you much to work with?”

When I read that, I thought: Every marriage has disappointments, and yes, we need to learn how to deal with them so marriages can become a blessing, not a burden.

Arlene continues …

I remember a very busy Wednesday in our home. First I woke up at 5:30 a.m. for boot camp at the gym. James will tell you it was very unusual for me to get up that early (knowing my love for sleep). Then I headed to the kids’ elementary school to watch Ethan’s class participate in a folk dancing festival followed by refreshments in the classroom.  

I rushed home and had a radio interview and then needed to update my website which was being redesigned. Plus I had speaking engagements to prepare for the next few days. And we were having company stay at our house the following day so I needed to clean.

Have you ever had one of those days? 

I was feeling the need for some serious words of affirmation from James. But, of course, I didn’t articulate that in words. I dropped hints left and right, but he was not catching on.

I’m huffing and puffing, walking quickly around the house with cleaning supplies. I’m sighing and talking about how much I had to do. I’m waiting for a comforting word or a compliment. He continues working from his office in silence. Now I’m even more stressed out because I’ve added “I have an insensitive husband” to my list of grievances.

Then it hits me. I am just doing my job. Why am I trying to get extra attention? As a mother, author and speaker, these are the kinds of activities that are part of the package.

I don’t commend James every time he brings the kids to school, completes his business calls and texts back his clients. That’s all part of his job

That evening, I wrote this in my journal:  

I realized today that I need to do my part and not wait for the kudos. Instead of thinking James will meet all my needs for affirmation; I need to lean on the Lord more for validation. I want to stop waiting for him to say the magic words. The truth is he doesn’t even know he’s supposed to say them. 

There will be many times when your husband will do or say something that will bring a big smile to your face. But don’t count on your husband to be the main source of your smile. He simply can’t live up to that. And when you need those words of affirmation, ask for them. Remember your husband is not a mind reader.

Whenever you find yourself feeling down in your marriage, pray this and ask God to restore your joy:  

“Lord, you say that a merry heart is like medicine. Smiling is good for my health. Help me to smile more often. I give you my worries and concerns. I give my burdens to you because I know You care for me. I choose to smile because I know I am loved. Thank you for loving me.”

Do you struggle with expectations you have with your husband to make you “happy”? What, from Arlene’s journal thoughts, encourages you the most?

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to a Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband.  She lives in San Diego with her husband James and three children.  You can learn more about her at

Text Graphic: from