Perception vs. Reality

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  1 Samuel 16:7 NLT

Preparing for our first beach vacation after the birth of our daughter was a tremendous task. A week away from home with an eight-month-old required planning, coordination, and an inordinate amount of equipment.

Just before dawn on the day of our departure, I hauled various bags, the play-yard, a table-mounted highchair, electric swing, and stroller onto the front porch. As I worked, I noticed a car creeping past our house. The occupants stared. I must have been quite a sight, still dressed in my nightgown and sporting a bed-head.

I went in the house for more items, and when I came out again, the car was making a second pass. The intense scrutiny of this second drive-by raised my discomfort level. Were they “casing the joint,” flagging our house as a target for theft while we were out of town? We had been robbed before, so I was alarmed.

On the third drive-by, the woman in the passenger seat rolled down her window and yelled, “What time does your yard sale start?”

Momentarily confused, it took several seconds for me to comprehend the question. Then it dawned on me. While I knew I was packing for a beach trip, this woman thought I was preparing to hold a yard sale. Annoyed, and slightly embarrassed, I yelled back, “It’s not a yard sale!”

“Are you sure? It looks like a yard sale,” she countered.

Things are not always as they appear at first glance. Our appraisal of people or situations can be influenced by our experiences, perceptions, or expectations. Sometimes, what seems like the right assessment or choice really isn’t. Running ahead of God, instead of waiting for his directive, can create problems we never anticipated.

1 Samuel 16 recounts the story of God sending Samuel to anoint Israel’s next king. Samuel knew the place and the designated family, but not the exact member. When Jesse presented his first son, Eliab, who perhaps carried himself in a regal manner, Samuel assumed he was the chosen one. But the Lord stopped Samuel, telling him a person’s heart matters more than outward appearance. Seven of Jesse’s sons paraded before Samuel, but, at the Lord’s instruction, he rejected them all. Finally, the youngest son, David, who was out shepherding his flock, was brought in from the fields. David’s father didn’t even consider him worth presenting, but Samuel knew immediately that he was God’s chosen one and anointed him.

Our wisdom can never equal God’s. Sometimes what appears to be a good opportunity can lead down a dead-end path, wasting time, energy, and talents. Other times, our perception of people is skewed, and we either miss out on a great connection, or end up being hurt by someone who isn’t what they appeared to be. In seeking God’s guidance before making decisions, we avoid the consequences of mistakes and detours. As James promises: “…if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NASB).

The better we know Him, the better we are able to sense His guidance. Through cultivating a relationship with God, we gain His perspective, make wiser choices, and follow His plan for our lives. He’ll never steer us wrong.

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Perception vs. Reality – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: When has your own judgement or perspective led you astray?

God Is Supposed to Do It My Way

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

My sister-in-law, Leslie, took her ten-year-old daughter, Megan, to the ballet and carefully explained beforehand what Megan would be seeing. But it turned out Megan didn’t quite get the concept.

During the performance, Megan watched the dancers communicating through their dance with a questioning look on her face, like, “This doesn’t make sense.” During one scene, when a male dancer was trying to communicate something to the ballerina, Megan leaned over to her mom and whispered, “Why doesn’t he just tell her?” Megan was troubled at the dancer’s frustration that the ballerina didn’t seem to understand his message.

Leslie replied, “It’s a ballet; they don’t talk.”

During the performance, Megan asked several more times about the lack of verbal communication. She just couldn’t get the non-verbal concept.

When Leslie and Megan returned home, her father asked about the ballet, expecting an enthusiastic response. Megan’s “OK” was definitely not enthusiastic.

Chuck was surprised. “Didn’t you like it, Megan?”

“No, Daddy, it was all in sign language.”

Megan had missed the beauty of the ballet because she expected something different—even though Leslie had tried to prepare her. Her incorrect assumptions had kept her from a wonderful experience.

Sometimes God’s children have the same problem. We expect God to work in a certain way, and when He doesn’t, it’s like He’s communicating in sign language—and we aren’t getting the point.

Maybe you have been waiting for God to do a certain thing. When He hasn’t, you have assumed He hasn’t done anything at all. But maybe your expectations are getting in the way of seeing the ways He is at work in you or others.

Maybe it’s time to release your expectations and believe that He is faithful according to His will. Let’s notice everything God is doing—not just what we are hoping for—and trust His will is best.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11 NASB

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God Is Supposed to Do It My Way – @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to travel and has been in more than 25 countries and has spoken in 8 of them. Her passion is to teach about God’s unconditional love and acceptance.  Kathy is the author of more than 50 books. She and her husband, Larry, are lay counselors and write and speak together. They have two children and two grandchildren and make their home in southern California.

Kathy’s recent release is a women’s Bible study. In Heart Wisdom: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, you will learn to navigate every area of your life through insightful commentary and challenging questions from the wisdom in Proverbs.

Join the conversation: When has God met your expectations differently than you assumed He would?

 

 

Skipping the Valentine Gift

by Michele McCarthy

A wise person demonstrates patience, for mercy means holding your tongue. When you are insulted, be quick to forgive and forget it, for you are virtuous when you overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11 NASB

Ah, the cycles of gift giving! The bountiful, countless gift giving options marrieds appropriate. The “Surely if my husband loved me, he’d make a mental note of any gift I might enjoy, say, for Valentine’s Day or our anniversary. He’d remember the earrings, book or CD I mentioned and tuck the idea-nugget away on the gift giving list he carries in his man-card wallet. I just need to allow him to read my mind” cycle. No pressure there.

Then there’s the “no fail, surprise romantic dinner” rotation. But the steak burned or one of the kids got sick or the business meeting ran long, and dinner went cold. Dinner wasn’t the only thing cold that night.

Close behind: the “Let’s don’t give gifts this year” series. Yet one of you breaks the rule, thinking other said person will break the rule. Oops, the spouse with no gift to give feels like a heel.

All kidding aside, we can, at times, put pressure on our husbands or ourselves…wishing for mind readers that enable becoming the perfect fulfiller of our wants, gifts and dreams—much like the characters in a Hallmark movie. FICTION Hallmark movie, mind you. So much can go wrong and can lead to hurt and unforgiveness.

My husband is a good gift giver; it is often me that messes everything up. One time he bought me a special coffee maker and a beautiful white coffee cup. A sweet remembrance of our trip to Italy and our daily coffee “experiences”—always with a white cup. Poor guy, I hated to tell him I had just decided I needed to cut down my coffee habit. As soon as he has me figured out, I change my mind! Yes, I have returned gifts he has spent precious time finding.

This year, I’m skipping the nicely wrapped Valentine gift. Instead, I’ll offer my Valentine a richer sacrifice. I’d like to become (for him) unoffendable. Yes, what if I never again hold my husband accountable for my happiness, my worth, my value…even at Valentines…gift, no gift, thoughtless gift or greatest gift?

Have I matured enough in my walk with Christ? Am I as easily able to be unoffended with my husband as I am with others? I want to be consistently, kindly unoffendable. In our home. Holiday or not.

Jesus lived it. He gave and gave and whether appreciated or not, loved or not, received or not, beaten or not, He never gave an offended response. He loved continuously and unconditionally. Everyday. Everywhere.

Long ago I received the best LOVE gift ever, one that never fails. Jesus. When He took residence in me, His amazing love toward others, in kindness and truth, was to become who I am. I have the pleasure and power of learning to love like Christ.

Can you hear it? Maybe my husband will hum Nat King Cole singing a new song, “unoffendable that’s who you are…unoffendable both near and far…”

I will get my hubby a funny Valentine card to accompany a noticeable shift in my expectations. The key word being my. As I walk out who I am in Christ, I want to increase my love out of the overflow of Christ’s love for me, no gift expected in return or any need to be returned.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB

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Skipping the Valentine’s Gift – thoughts from Michele McCarthy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Michele McCarthyAbout the author: A wife to her devoted husband and a mom of two fine young men, two fabulous daughters-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren, Michele McCarthy has served her family faithfully for years. She is now enjoying attending Lifestyle Christianity University and exploring long hidden talents of writing and watercolor. She has written a children’s book, Daddy and Me, that is currently at the publisher. She loves reading, scrapbooking, deep conversations and talking about Jesus.

Join the conversation: How is that gift cycle working for you?

The Blessing of the Christmas Bike

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I waited impatiently along with my sister Karen and brother Chuck at the closed door leading into the living room, where we could imagine the sparkling Christmas tree awaiting us. Nine-year-old Karen murmured, “I can’t wait to get my new bicycle. I just know it’s under the tree.”

Then it was time. We sprinted into the living room and gasped with delight. The tree blazed with colored lights. Karen’s eyes scanned over the gifts, some wrapped, some not. But there wasn’t any bike standing by the tree. I heard her murmur Where is it? and knew her heart felt heavy with disappointment. But I could also see that she was trying to push her disappointment aside as she grabbed the unwrapped doll sitting on top of her pile. It was the doll she wanted—but it wasn’t the bike!

From my vantage point, I could see Karen’s bike over by the front door next to the hall closet. Even though I wondered why she didn’t see it, I was too engrossed in my own gifts to say anything.

“Karen,” I heard our mother call, “please go to the hall closet and get me one of the folding chairs.”

“But Mommy, I’m not done with my presents…” Our mother’s warning look stopped her whine. She got up slowly. “Oh, OK.” I knew she wanted to scream, “Where’s my bike?” as I saw tears pooling in her eyes. She had been talking for months about getting that bike for Christmas.

Karen walked across the small living room to the hall closet and jerked open the closet door. Tugging at the chair inside, she pulled it out and carried it to where her mother sat. “Thanks, honey,” her mother grinned.

Moments later, Karen’s shoulders slumped as she reached for her last present which wasn’t her bike. “Karen, if you’re done opening your presents, what do you say?” her mother asked.

“Thanks for my presents. They’re nice.” But I knew what she really wanted to say. We all did.

Then our mother spoke up again, “Karen…” but started laughing before she could say anything more. Before she could control herself, our father had burst into laughter too. Mom’s giggling subsided and then she said, “Karen, would you please go to the closet again and stand there?”

My sister obediently trudged toward the closet and then jolted to a stop. There, right in front of her, leaning against the opposite wall, was her shiny, red bike decorated with a big red bow! As she stood transfixed with her mouth agape, we all roared with laughter.

“Honey, why didn’t you see it before?” Mommy called out. “It’s been there the whole time. That’s why I interrupted you with that silly task.”

Karen delightedly jumped onto her new bike’s red plastic seat that sported bright yellow sunflowers. “I guess I was so disappointed when I didn’t see it under the tree that I just didn’t notice it over here.” She paused. “But it’s here! My bike! I love it!” She ran to Mommy and Daddy and hugged them.

I’ve always remembered that Christmas morning. Karen thought the bike would be under the tree and her ability to see it was blocked by her locked expectations.

When I get disappointed by life and other people, and even God, I’m reminded how blessings are often all around me but I just don’t see them. I’m expecting them in a certain way—like under the tree, but not sitting by the closest door.

I must be open to God’s unusual and creative ways to bless me and others. He knows what’s best.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 NASB

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Learning to Look for God’s Blessings in Unusual and Creative Places – The Lesson of the Christmas Bike (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to see spiritual applications in the daily moments of life. Little did she know on that Christmas morning that one of God’s blessings would be becoming a writer and speaker. She’s an international speaker and author of more than 50 books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. She writes and lives in Southern California, with her husband, Larry. They are parents and grandparents, co-authors and lay-counselors. Connect with her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com and www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor

Join the conversation: How has God met your expectations differently than you imagined He would?

Expectations

by Fran Sandin

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit…” (1 Corinthians 2: 9,10 NIV).

Margaree Harbor—the name slid off my tongue like a spoonful of ice cream on a hot summer day. We were in a time before online reservations and photos, but the name on the advertisement had me envisioning a perfect get-away on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The details described it as situated on a hill facing the harbor. I imagined beautiful lights, moonlight shimmering on the water, and yachts skimming along the sea or peacefully docked in their berths. Yes! It sounded like the perfect romantic stop along our journey.

However, as my husband, Jim, and I arrived to our destination, we saw no people and no houses. We thought the city must be in the other direction, so we again tried to follow the map, all the while thinking…surely this is not the place. As gravel pebbles popped beneath our car tires, we viewed the “harbor”—a dried up ravine with an abandoned, rusty, fishing boat lying on its side, a string of colored Christmas-tree lights swinging from bow to stern. No water in sight, but lots of weeds.

Then we looked up the hill to a tall, narrow, frame house with dingy, white-flaking paint, the windows askew, and a sagging front porch. Jim, and I looked at each other and struggled to smile. We double-checked the address. Yes, this was it.

When we gained the courage to knock on the front door, a man in overalls answered and cordially showed us our room upstairs with a shared bathroom down the hall. The three-story monster was a 1927 farmhouse, filled with what were the original furnishings. Thankfully, no one else came to stay and share our bathroom. We endured one night there but enjoyed our other destinations.

From that vacation on, our experience caused me to be skeptical when reading travel descriptions.

But there is a travel destination, one worthy of our trust, described in the Bible. It is the perfect location, visited by reservation only. Heaven. The Bible tells us this special place is created by God Himself. Jesus is there now, preparing a place for us to dwell (John 14:2).

The Holy Bible contains no false or misleading information. Heaven is a real place, reserved for believers who have repented of sins and trusted in Jesus as our Savior, because He paid the penalty for our sins with his own blood. If we believe in our hearts that Jesus was the Son of God, died and was resurrected, then our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Acts 16:31).

God does not want anyone to perish, but all to be saved. With the life of the Spirit in us, we have already have eternity in our hearts today.

Dear Father, thank you that your Word is true and we can depend on it. In a world that is always changing and sometimes deceitful, YOU never change—We can trust you. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. In sending your dear son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins, we are given the opportunity to make a reservation in Heaven, a place of magnificence because we will gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. No disappointments there. Thank you, dear Lord. In Jesus’ name, A-men. 

fran sandlinAbout the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. and has co-authored others. Jim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren.

Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com

Join the conversation: What are you looking forward to when you get to heaven?

 

Photo by Éva Balogh on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Get Run-O-Vated

by Beth Duewel

Have you wanted to start something new? Have a new goal? Begin a new project? Great! Because every new venture means new opportunity for adventure.

A recent project of mine was taking down the Christmas lights. Adventure, yes, but anything but fun. I was out in single digit temperatures working to deconstruct what took hours to construct a few weeks before! I felt as tangled on the inside as my desperately tangled lights were on the outside. Grrr. And BRRR.

High expectations coupled with high frustration can create a tangled mess of conflict and stress. I’ve never been good at facing either. Mostly I try to outrun them.

When we were expecting our first baby, I expected a lot. I’d read What to Expect When You’re Expecting about a bazillion times. I practically memorized its pages. I expected my husband to read the book, too. But that wasn’t all I expected of him. Everyday he’d come home from work to a list of must-haves like, “My face is totally glowing and I must have the crib and bassinet assembled tonight right after you demo the wall between our room and the baby’s room (big breath here), pleeeeease.”

A few weeks later, in angry frustration, I ran out the door after a silly argument. Misplaced hope and unreasonable expectations were pushing us apart. The more I expected from Jerry, the less I expected from God. I was running in the opposite direction of where I needed to go. My very human husband was no match for my long list of must-haves.

Thankfully, I’m now learning to run to the One who can renovate my heart and give me the makeover I need. To run-o-vate me!

Consider the woman plagued with bleeding for twelve years. Her ailment, according to Mosaic Law, made her ceremonially unclean. Others assumed her outside ailment meant inside brokenness. They were wrong. She faced more even wrongs. Wrong diagnosis. Wrong hopes for a cure. Scripture tells us, “She spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26 ESV). Every hope or expectation of a cure had been frustrated. So when she heard about a man who “healed many who had various diseases” (Mark 1:34), she ran to Capernaum. She put feet to her faith.

The book of Matthew gives us insight into her expectations: “If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole” (Matt. 9:21 KJV). The Greek word translated whole literally means “to be complete.”

She reached for the fringe and felt His power rushing through her. Jesus told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:34). She had properly placed her hope and expectations into the healing hands of Jesus. He alone could truly solve her need.

We have to start with faith. Improperly placed expectation invites conflict, frustration, and heartbreak. Faith guides expectation and hope to the right place. It is a choice to run to Him. To run away from our expectations for every new project or distraction and toward Him alone. He is the new adventure.

Jesus will make the difference between being renovated or exasperated. When we trust Him first, we align ourselves with His plans for us. Which is a very good place to be.

So I say, “Touch the fringe today…and watch the stress melt away.” Too bad I can’t say the same thing for the snow.

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” Romans 9:16 NASB

 Adapted from Fix Her Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God Renovated Life (Bold Vision Books, 2017) by Beth Duewel and Rhonda Rhea

beth duewelAbout the author: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She lives in Ashland, Ohio with her three almost all grown up children, and husband Jerry. She tries to stay refreshed by running fast to Jesus. Catch her recent book release with co-author, Rhonda Rhea, Fix Her Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God Renovated Life. (Bold Vision Books, 2017.)

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random numberScreen Shot 2017-12-22 at 1.58.43 PM generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Beth’s book, Fix Her Upper,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What expectations do you need to place in God’s capable hands?