We’d waited for children for years and here we were — bags packed. We walked the streets of our favorite neighborhood at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains the night before our plane flight to Ethiopia to go get them. I’d finally given myself permission to be full of expectation; after all, the paperwork was complete. We had no logical reason to think they wouldn’t soon be ours.
Fireworks exploded overhead and the air was thick with the smell of barbecue and smoke from busted-open bottle rockets. This was our last night to be “just the two of us”. For nearly eight years we’d been just the two of us. In a few short days we’d cuddle bodies we didn’t make and call two strangers, family.
We had so few words that night — it felt as if putting language to anticipation of this magnitude might just spoil it. I was full on the inside, even before I met them.
I didn’t know that would be the first of a growing number of July 4th’s when fireworks weren’t the main show.
Two years later, we tromped on grassy cracks in the sidewalk of an unfamiliar neighborhood four states away. Now it was Midwesterners — not East Coasters — flipping burgers on the grill and shooting (much louder) bottle rockets. Same smell. Same permission I’d granted myself, now, to be full of expectation. Fourth of July weekend was when we put a stake in the ground with a house contract and prepared to move those once-strangers (who now were all-Hagerty) across the country. Papers were signed.
Exactly one year after that, our plane soared over the celebratory fireworks below. This time the destination was Uganda. And the smell was sweat from sleeping bodies crammed in one small cabin. Expectancy hung in the balance of my heart — this adoption was tenuous, despite the fact that we’d purchased four expensive plane tickets and were going. I didn’t give myself full permission to hope for these new two to enter our family. I chose caution over expectancy.
Then He made them ours. He exceeded any expectation I did have.
And now, this year, we’ll sweep the floors one last time of an empty house on the 4th of July. We’ll remember vignettes of what happened within these walls as the moving truck aims almost just around the corner to our (minor) version of the country. I’m invited into expectancy for a fresh, new season, again.
I always seem to wait for both the big things in life — moves and adding children and all those Independence Days — and the certainty that they’re coming, to give permission to that little flutter of hope for what He can do. Something happened between now and the first night I said “yes” to Him when I was fifteen. Then, I was unfettered. Young. Naive, some would say. I was both empty and full and I wasn’t uncomfortable with that. It was as if the readiness for what was ahead, but not yet lived, was creating the space that would soon be filled. I wasn’t scared of expectancy towards God.
I wasn’t hedging my bets then.
But this year He’s using the now-repetitive rhythm of the 4th of July to remind me that I can live expectant, like I was when I was fifteen. It’s ok.
The measured, calculated side of me — the adult — wants to talk myself out of being giddy in God. Ever. I shouldn’t be a thrill seeker, right? Twenty years of western Christianity allures me towards caution and threatens to convince me that I live by merely what I see.
But what if, in my attempts to manage the dangers of thrill seeking, I have become dull to the possibilities in God? What if I’ve managed myself right out of an expectation that creates the empty space necessary to be filled? By Him.
Expectation is wrapping your toes around that tight-wire of current-emptiness and coming fullness. It’s risky, sure. But sometimes the only way to get from one stagnant place over to the other side is to inch your way across by your expectations of what God can do.
Sometimes dullness is the indicator that I’ve stopped — daily, hourly — really believing that God traveled through the birth canal of a virgin teenager just to show His love.
He’s given me, now, four July 4th’s to begin practicing expectation. For new things and season changes and beautiful life disruptions. Not the “you must do this for me, God” expectation but the “can I be a little girl again” wide-eyed question that I lay at His feet.
It’s not normal for a graying thirty-something who has a whole lot of mundane life before her to live daily in this expectancy. But He made me (and all of us) to be more aware of His possibility than I am about the world’s “impossibilities”.
He didn’t create me for normal, measured.
This little sprite moves His heart when I throw my arms open wide and say: surprise me, Daddy … do what only You can do. He enjoys it when I approach Him with expectation. And I’m slowly learning that I can both pattern my life towards the beautifully long and quiet while still carrying an expectation for those secret thrills in God. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
I grow when I hope and when I expect.
I grow when my eyes are on Him — and He is the God of great wonders.
So on the heels of this house move, we’ve got another little move. Same celebratory weekend. The space that’s held this blog — in just a few short days — is changing. The URL will stay the same, but the site will have a little renovation.
And in honor of this move we’re going to have a grand ol’ open house on the blog. For the next few weeks I’m throwing open the doors for you to meet some friends, ones that stretch all across the body of Christ.
We’re three months from Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet‘s book release date. (Yes, another place for me to ask Him for expectancy. Would you move my insides towards You while I put my weak words out there for all to see?) It’s only fitting that the topic I’m inviting my friends to share with you would be how they’ve seen this proverb unfold in their own lives.
Come back in a few days to check it all out.
In the meantime, give yourself the gift of five minutes and a walk around the block or up the stairs or to the water cooler and ask Him: am I dull to expectancy in You God? Revive my heart according to who You are.
For Your Continued Pursuit: Psalm 81:10 | Hebrews 11:1,6 | Isaiah 40:31 | Ephesians 1:17-18 | Colossians 1:19
Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.