Plans and Expectations

Calendar photo by Brandon Redfern

Plans and goals–they sound like such good things. Dreams and deadlines mean something has to happen. It tells a story of progress and forward motion toward (hopefully) all of the right things. It is refusing to stand idle while life threatens to pass you by.

But is that all? Is it only the promise of good that can come from such hopes and aspirations?

What about the bitter disappointment that comes when things don’t go “as planned” in life? Or the fits we throw when someone doesn’t live up to our expectations? We lose trust and hold a grudge when things don’t look the way we envisioned, because that’s only fair. This was not what we had in mind, therefore it is practically our right to let the world know.

Honestly, you and I, we are allowed to be disappointed. I will never be the person that says you should only be happy or at least attempting happiness in every moment of life. Emotions come in a wide range and part of life is allowing ourselves to experience the many joys and frustrations that a range of emotions can bring. Go ahead and feel down when you’re sad, elated when you’re happy, conflicted when you’re confused or overwhelmed. This not only makes us human, it also allows us to cope with our situation and better empathize with others.

That said, sometimes I think we set ourselves up for disappointment when we don’t have to. 

We put these high expectations on ourselves to be something and achieve something. Then we go around putting these expectations on the people around us. We make plans as if that will lock in the things we want and then pay no regard to the fact that we only have the slightest bit of control over it. If it’s in the calendar, then it’s bound to happen, right?

Right now, I have no interest in making any plans more than a few weeks away. There’s so much that can happen in a month, three months, eight months, a year. The farther ahead we plan, the farther it feels from something I can count on. I would not be planning based on reality, but on pure speculation and therefore creating more expectations to uphold. Life has too many variables and the vast majority of them are well outside of our control. 

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, much less a month from now. Tragedy could strike, opportunity could knock, the unexpected could happen. Health-related, weather-related, people-related, work-related, government-related–which of those things can you reasonably control? Sure, you can exercise, bring an umbrella, invest in the lives of others, work hard, vote, and whatever else to contribute to the overall impact (and you should), but don’t fool yourself into believing you’ve therefore earned it and can will things to happen the way you want.

Let’s instead put our hope in the right things. Let’s give grace when expectations aren’t met and think more realistically when it comes to our dreams and deadlines. Let’s be cautious to make plans and realize when we are forming absolutes in our minds. Let’s do our best, but know that most things are beyond our control and therefore let go of our reliance on our own expectations.

Let’s give the same grace and space for in our own lives as we do in the lives of others.

 

Redefine Success and Face Reality

Redefine Success and Face Reality

Journaling | Moving Peaces

When you say you are a writer, people have certain expectations.

They want you to say something special. It’s as if there is some fancy dictionary only writers know about to effortlessly add sophisticated words into sentences. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a novel or your grocery list–plain words are never enough. Clever words and fantastic analogies are expected of writers, regardless of the subject matter.

It all sounds dreamy…I must sit around in coffee shops and have a special soundtrack for my thinking and writing. Maybe an old typewriter is involved or a fountain pen adorns my desk. In my free time perhaps I sit around on comfy sofas reading the latest piece of worthwhile literature while wearing trendy glasses and cardigans.

But the reality is, I sit on the couch and type whatever first comes to mind and then I edit it for hours or even days. The room is usually dark and sometimes quiet. Half the time I forget that I wear glasses or am too lazy to go find them, so I sit and stare at the screen with the slightest bit of strain behind my eyes. I don’t own a typewriter or a fountain pen, but scribble in my notebook with a pencil like a middle schooler. I don’t use extraordinary words or require my readers to have an extensive vocabulary to understand me. I believe the best writing is the simplest.

There is a certain glamour to life in our heads. Whether movies or ignorant comments established such a scene, we sometimes feel the need to meet the standards of what “life as a…[fill in the blank]” looks like. That expectation then decides what success looks like. It’s in that exact moment that we back down and feel inadequate. Because our reality does not look like the expectation, we start to feel overwhelmed and incapable. Then guess what? We give up. We walk away. We say it’s too hard or that it’s never going to happen.

Real success happens when we redefine our expectations and then meet or exceed them. Instead of subscribing to conventional ideas, construct your own measurement for success. Create attainable goals and describe what that looks like daily–starting now.

You will never be able to live up to the hype or expectation of someone else. That doesn’t have to sound hopeless though. You have the freedom to look at your life and say, “This is what I want it to look like, and that is what I am working towards.”

You might still feel overwhelmed or like you are chasing a pipe dream. You might even try and fail. Don’t give in to the lies, distractions or comparisons; just focus on what you can do and press forward. If you really want to pursue that redefined success mark, do so wholeheartedly.  Not only are your dreams more achievable, but you then get to celebrate and claim the small victories along the way.

 

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to Me

25 plus 1 | Moving Peaces

It’s my birthday, and I have mixed feelings about it. This cake is even confused and makes you do math: 25 + 1.

Last year, I wrote all about the milestone birthday that was 25. I listed all my contradictions and everything I knew to be true in that moment. I felt like a mess at the time but looking back at that post again, it is beautifully written and full of hope.

This past year has been so incredibly full. It was full of incredible high points and deep lows. In so many ways, last year was everything I could have dreamed of…just no where near the way I saw it happening. For starters, it was really hard. I cried a lot, felt ripped apart the majority of the time and was stripped of my confidence over and over again. I felt like I had something to prove–that one day I might be able to present all my accomplishments to the world and therefore justify the struggle.

To the outside world, I look like I am in the same exact place that I was a year ago. I have nothing to show you, no ribbons or trophies to wave in your face. I did not grow an inch, nor did I graduate to the next grade or life stage. I am still here, floundering about in my twenties.

But if that is all you can see in someone, then you aren’t getting it. Further, if that’s all I can see, then maybe I really need to reevaluate, too. 

There was a lot of life lived in the last year (and in the years prior). I loved with all my heart, pursued my dreams and left my comfort zone. I asked hard questions and stuck up for myself when appropriate. You could even say that I failed, but I did so while fully persevering–committed to learning and growing in the process. I opened my home to strangers and sought community with those around me. I let go of the pursuit of perfection but instead embraced my strengths and weaknesses.

Through all that, I still thought by now that I’d have something tangible to show you. Then I could say, “Look, I did all this. I’ve finally made it. I know what I’m doing now.” But the biggest and best parts of life are lived in intangibles. It’s your integrity and character, your hope and faith, relationships and love that are your biggest achievements. 

I can’t give you many metrics or tout any awards, but I know with certainty that all of those areas in my life have been developed and strengthened in this past year. For that, I could not be more thankful or feel more accomplished.

Less Rest When You Dream

Less Rest When You Dream

Hobbies and Things | Moving Peaces

While we were away we were almost intentional about not doing the things we usually do. Now that we’re home those duties, drivers and dreams are back with a vengeance.

It’s as if we both feel this need, this longing to create. It’s almost a burden and to be honest, I can’t decide if it’s a good one or a bad one. He immediately starting editing videos. I wrote and wrote. I have a sense of responsibility to my writing. To my goals, dreams and hopes. It goes beyond writing–travel, music, relationships and art all have seats at the table in this house.

There’s no denying that we’re back. No hiding in another country without a properly functioning cell phone. The pressure is clear, the distractions are back and the battle is just getting started. We both had victorious moments during the first week of our trip. I had an article published in Relevant, and he got to contribute some footage in a National Geographic video. It was as if our hard work had paid off, and we got to momentarily bask in its bliss.

But upon return, we went straight back to the grind. We know these creative goals are not something we can just sit on and expect dividends in return. It’s a pressure, it’s a responsibility and it’s right in front of our faces. Neither of us know when time will run out on these dreams so we continue to cram ourselves full to make sure things happen. It’s exhausting already, and we just got back last week.

So the question becomes, what for? What are we aiming to achieve? What cost does it bring? What’s the purpose? Is it the right kind of dream? Finally, is it worth it?

Thursday Three

Thursday Three

Where has the week gone? Just where?? I feel like the beginning of each week (you know, the Friday before) everything is totally clear and I have a wide open schedule. Try to catch me near the end of the week, and I have suddenly every moment packed in with no extra availability. The good news is, I’m keeping busy and it’s been fun. Today though, almost all my meetings got rescheduled, and I found some good time to work on some freelance projects.

1. I’m not where I was six months ago. Maybe from the outside I look like the same me and there’s definitely a core that has stayed the same, but I think my approach has shifted. A few different things came up this week that made me realize it, whether it was coming across old emails or considering opportunities and goals. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed being who I am now a lot more than who I was then. I had hoped to one day get to say that, so it’s likely I’ll have to expound upon that further at a later date.

2. I’m a prepper. I mean a planner…for our trip this spring. Wait, did you think I was a doomsday prepper? What?! (Quite the show though). This week I’ve been working on a little bit of Spanish with the Duolingo app (which is amazing). Further, I bought a new backpack! I was so thrilled that as soon as I brought it home I stuffed it with pillows and a bag of oranges to “practice” carrying it around. For nearly two days I had it strapped to my back. Once I take it out on some real adventures, I’ll tell you all about it, but for now, enjoy this embarrassing picture of me looking way too excited.

BACKPACKMy husband calls this my photo face…apparently I only make such a look when a camera is involved. I’d like to dispute such claims, but looking at last week’s Thursday Three…I can see where he’s coming from.

3. Remember your dreams. Sometimes it’s easy to say you have dreams and then instead of acting on them, watch Netflix five nights a week and then say there isn’t enough time in the day. There’s not enough time in the day. So cut some things out and set aside time focus on your dreams/goals. Time to think them through and also time to implement them. They won’t happen otherwise, trust me.

Recap & Reflection

Recap & Reflection

For those of you who have been asking how the event went, here’s a quick summary. From my perspective, it could not have been better! This is something I have been working on and praying about for months. Yes, months. But I think it was worth it.

Women's Event | Moving Peaces

For those of you who weren’t yet aware, I coordinated this year’s women’s event/retreat at our church. After hearing so many good things about the IF:Gathering, I thought it might be nice to host it ourselves, albeit a bit later than the rest of the world who participated in the live simulcast. IF asks the question, “If God is real, then what?” There were speakers like Jennie Allen, Christine Caine, Jen Hatmaker, Bianca Olthoff, Rebekah Lyons and Ann Voskamp, and they all had incredibly strong messages to share with women.

Speaker - Jen Hatmaker | Moving Peaces

As I shared earlier, I had a few dreams for what a women’s event could one day look like. When I learned about IF, I found they had carried out so many similar dreams and was struck by it.

IF Table | Moving Peaces

When it comes right down to it, there are amazing women out in the world. They are doing big things and they are doing small things, but they all matter. One of the things I wanted, was to bring the amazing women in our church all under one roof so we could learn from each other and build lasting relationships. So we could learn what it meant to live a life for God.

I’m so glad this weekend was about that.

Emcee | Moving Peaces

 

I had the unique pleasure of not only coordinating the event, but also being the emcee as we transitioned from different sessions. I almost never knew 100% of what I was about to say before I said it, which was completely unnerving but it basically meant I was praying for the words the whole way through.

Lunch Outside | Moving Peaces

We got to hang out together and chat Friday night at the bonfire, eat lunch on a gorgeous sunny Saturday under tents on the lawn and talk to each other around the table all weekend long. A few women shared and we really just had time to enjoy each other’s company.

Women from Church | Moving Peaces

IF Gathering Event | Moving Peaces

Hidden Dreams

I think we all have some untapped passions in us. There’s a side of us that we have that plays out from time to time, but we never see it until we go after something that almost falls into our laps.

If you had told me three years ago that thing would be women’s ministry at church I would have never believed you. But if you ask me to stop and consider it–how I love connecting women to each other, I love talking about real life and why our stories matter and how I care so deeply about the relationship between people and church–it starts to make more sense.

A little over a year ago, I jotted down some dreams for what women’s ministry could look like. In the middle of the night I wrote down all sorts of thoughts and ideas, never thinking it would amount to anything. I shoved that notebook back into a drawer and didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t think it was my thing or that I was the right person for the job. Months later I came across an opportunity that I had to bring up. I wanted to shake it and go on pretending it didn’t matter much to me, but it did.

I’m excited to tell you we are less than a week away from a women’s event that I’ve been helping plan at church. And oddly enough, a lot of it is in line with those hopes and dreams I wrote down ridiculously late that one night. There’s still a bit to do, but I’m eager to see how it might impact those that attend (if you’re reading this and local, please consider yourself invited)! While I might not have wanted to claim this part of me previously, I know now that it is a huge passion of mine. It may take a different form than others, but it is something I’m so glad I pursued.

 

IF Promo Video from Lifepointe Church.

I believe God gives us dreams and passions for a purpose. I’m still learning and discovering what mine are, but I know they are intended for use. So even though I didn’t realize this was something I would be involved in, I kept putting those different skills and loves into practice and tried to stay open to what that might mean down the line. Anyone else had a similar story? Found yourself in the midst of something you never would have imagined and then looked around and realized it all suddenly made sense?

 

31 Days: Finding Self | Moving Peaces

This post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.