The Grove – Expectation

Two quick things before we get started today.

#1.  The winner of our giveaway this week is….drumroll…. Katie S.!   Congrats!!

#2.  Have you ever heard of  Two words: Life-changing!  Check it out and stay tuned to hear how Velvet Ashes is going to link arms with One Word for the new year.

Ok, we’re meeting at The Grove to share our thoughts, stories, and art on the prompt “Expectation.”  It’s a loaded word, isn’t it?  Especially around this time of year.  So circle up, and let’s spill it.  I’ll start:


They say curiosity killed the cat.  But I think not.

No, “expectation” – that’s the real killer.  The killer of joy, the thief of peace, the weight upon my back that can drag me down, heavy and slow. 

When I expect results in my work…

When I expect my Christmas day to look and taste and feel just like it did back on the other side of the world…

When I expect my children to be the model TCKs, friendly, flexible, gracious, and generous in all situations…

When I expect there to be butter on the shelf at the store …

When I expect my teammates to be my BFFs…

When I expect to sleep on a plane…

When I expect my marriage to be Hollywood romance

When I expect everyone to understand my choice to live in a land far away…

When I expect hot water…

When I expect the plumber to show up with tools, not just a flashlight…

You really have no idea how much you expect until you step into a world where your expectations fall flat, one after the other. 

These unmet expectations, both the laughable and the heart-rending, they can all send me swirling, some days straight over the edge.

After battling my sky-high expectations for myself and everything in my life, I decided to adopt a philosophy for life that went something like this…

If I have really low expectations for everything and everyone, then I won’t be disappointed.  I’ll actually be pleasantly surprised by anything that falls above my low expectation. And pleasantly surprised is better than continual disappointment and frustration, right?

Did you follow that twisted line of thinking?

But here’s the thing, if I expect the worst, then I’m subconsciously looking for the worst.  And guess what?  That’s what I find, in myself, my children, my husband, my team, my life.  If I’m expecting the best, well, I’m setting myself up for heartbreak too.  Because for now, I’m stuck in a broken world, full of sin, the frustration of daily toils and the pain of big hurts.

So what’s left?  Expect mediocre?

No.  Mediocre expectations are for the birds of this world that don’t know their Maker or the flight they were made for.

No, those of us knowing our Maker should know that He makes all things good.  We know it.  But do we really believe it?

Do we really believe that the busted pipe, the smog, the theft, the child tantrum, the lonely ache, the deepest pain, that these can really be made…good?

Do we really, down to our marrow, trust that he’ll take the shattered shards of our broken expectation and make a gift?

The Cross stands as the epitome of evil…. If God can transfigure the greatest evil into the greatest Gift, then He intends to turn whatever you’re experiencing now into a gift.  You cannot be undone.”   –Ann Voskamp

Perhaps expectation is not the culprit after all.  Because I can expect my Father to keep his word.  I can expect that he will work ALL things together for the good of those who love him.  And I do.  I love him so.

I can choose to expect that all is grace, all is a gift, all can bring good.  And that expectation, my friends, the one I awake and pray to have.  That is the source of joy, the bringer of peace, and the spring in my step, carrying me through.


What about you?  What’s your journey with expectation?


Share with us your thoughts, stories and art on “Expectation”:

      1.  If you don’t have a blog, share with us in the comments.  We have the amazing NEW ability to post images in our comments!  So post your images and/or your words there.
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      6. It will walk you through selecting which image you want to show up in the linky.
      7. Then your post will show up in The Grove’s linky.
      8. Then go share some comment love!  It’s the rule.  We applaud brave hearts!

Word Art by Amy Davis Art Design


  1. Jennifer December 19, 2013

    Expectation… Missing Family
    Expectation… Missing Food
    Expectation… Missing Traditions
    Expectation… Missing Christmas

    Expectation… Light into Darkness
    Expectation… Hope for the Lost
    Expectation… Peace to the World
    Expectation… Healing for the Hurting

    All of these are very real possible expectations of Christmas this year. A very real challenge to me that we need to consider where we will choose to focus our eyes. Will we choose to focus on what miss, on what we do not have or will we focus on the reality of what Christmas really means wherever in the world we may be. A focus that does not depend in any way on what we do or do not have or even how we feel, but upon what God himself has chosen to give to us, to the world. On what we have regardless of anything around us.

    Where will our eyes be looking this Christmas? On what is not here or on what is.

    1. Morielle December 20, 2013

      “Where will our eyes be looking this Christmas? On what is not here or on what is.” That one hit home so hard it hurt. I really needed to read that today, Jennifer. So thankful for you.

  2. Danielle Wheeler December 19, 2013

    “…what Christmas really means wherever in the world we may be.”

    So true. The meaning of the day doesn’t change, no matter how different the actual day looks for us. Thanks for the call to look to the steadfast Meaning of Christmas.

  3. Va Neda Perkins December 19, 2013

    Hey Danielle, Thanks for your encouraging words. I needed them this morning, about how we can expect our Father to take the bad and make it into good. I had a really bad cultural experience last night and cried myself to sleep thinking I had really messed up big time even after knowing what a cultural blunder I was making. Your words encouraged me that even big cultural blunders He can make good. I am in expectation of that happening. A big thank you to all the ladies who have written these wonderful insightful articles. You are a tool of inspiration and encouragement.

    1. Danielle Wheeler December 20, 2013

      Oh Va Neda! I’ve been lamenting my own cultural blunder this week! After all these years, I’m still making them. So know you’re not alone. And yes, let’s trust together that He can bring good out our blunders.

    2. Morielle December 20, 2013

      Van Neda and Danielle: oh, me too. Me soooo too. I often pray, “God, be with my mouth,” and then say or do something so so so stupid. Then I cry out to God, “why aren’t you doing a better job being with my mouth!?” and His Word replies, “I love using weak things to shame the strong.” Blundered my way into a real tough cultural mess this week. Still praying the Lord will use it. Still expecting Him too. And I’ll join in praying the same prayer of expectation for you two ladies too! It feels so good to know I’m not the only one.

      1. Morielle December 20, 2013

        oh dear, *Va Neda*, sorry to mess up such a lovely name!

  4. Kristi December 20, 2013

    Lately the Lord has directed my attention to the times when my fearful expectations have been met with grace and mercy – with His unexpected gifts. Often blessings come when they are least expected.
    I moved to Beijing last year. I never expected to like Beijing. It’s big. It’s polluted. It’s crowded. But when I came back this fall things here were not as gray as I remembered.
    I didn’t expect that so many people here, both Americans and Chinese, to become such a forever part of my heart.
    I never expected to ever, ever ride a bike in Beijing. Now I do it almost every day. In fact, I often prefer it to taking the bus even when it’s cold and dark.
    I didn’t expect spending almost 7 hours a day 5 days a week with 7th grade boys would bring me such pleasure.
    I didn’t expect that I could survive without at least one day each week to sleep in. Notice I said “survive” not enjoy. You can’t have everything. 
    I didn’t expect my new favorite potato chip flavor to be cucumber, but I find them refreshing.
    I never expected anyone in my family to ever be willing or able to visit me in China, but Lord willing my sister will visit in May!
    I never expected to feel such freedom in a country where I am limited daily by language and cultural barriers.
    I didn’t expect the delight that comes from walking in a public park or along the canal. Simplicity exists even in the big city.
    I never expected riding the subway to become routine.
    I never expected to find joy in the unexpected, but I do.

    1. Amy Young December 20, 2013

      Welcome to the long line of us who never expected (dare I say wanted) to love Beijing … but we do, oh we do :).

    2. Danielle Wheeler December 20, 2013

      Sometimes broken expectations are really the very best thing, aren’t they? I love your list. And I can add my name to the list of those that never expected to love Beijing.

    3. Jennifer December 21, 2013

      So true…
      I never expected I would enjoy living in a city that spends almost half the year below freezing. Especially not growing up as I did in a place that only rarely ever went below freezing. But now it simply seems strange when my friends at home talk about temperatures above OC (32F) as cold … Living here has forever redefined my definition of cold. Above -10C (14F) is simply not really cold anymore. Coming as I do from the southern hemisphere, unlike many of you, Christmas for me is actually traditionally a summer event… though for much of my life the food we traditionally ate is much more suited to the northern hemisphere winter than hot summers days. That means that my food expectation for this time of year is actually food that is good for this time of year here… even if a little challenging to cook with just a small oven. But I can have some of what I most want even living here. It is probably also true that over time my expectations have changed, and in this my 5th Chinese Christmas I am happy to have my tree and happy to know I will have a few students to share a somewhat traditional Christmas lunch. I think I am learning one step at a time to focus on what I do have… and on creating new traditions, rather than looking at what I do not have. I am also learning that sometimes broken expectations in one context, in one situation, can be a sign of a new step, of a change coming, of new expectations waiting to be born. I know I am in the middle of that now myself. I am learning to walk it simply one step at a time.

  5. Ashley Felder December 21, 2013

    Oh, expectations. Danielle, I remember you talking about them so much my 1st year. I still struggle with them a lot, of course, but oh so thankful His grace has allowed me to let some of them go. Some of them. This one will probably be a forever-learning lesson for me…

    1. Carolyn December 22, 2013

      I agree with the “forever-learning lesson” about expectations! Just when I think I’ve opened my hands and let go, I realize I’m hanging on again – to something else! I think my hardest expectations to let go of are the ones I put on myself – that I will be able to do, be, say, accomplish all these idealistic goals I create in my mind, and then when it’s impossible (on my own strength), I get so frustrated and discouraged!

      Trusting Jesus to tell me what He expects of me (rest, listen, trust, release) and focusing on Him instead of my own agenda are the most challenging parts of Christmas for me. Well, of every day, actually!

      1. Danielle Wheeler December 23, 2013

        I’m right along side both of you with the “forever-learning lesson.” Seems that I have to cycle round and round this one. Grateful for grace!!

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