Managing Expectations

July 14, 2019

Several months ago I heard Pastor A. R. Bernard say this in one of his messages: When you know someone’s nature, you know how to deal with them. If you expect something different you are naïve. It takes awhile to discover the true nature of a person…It lowers the degree of your disappointment when you manage your expectation. Why would you expect 100-fold from a 30-fold person? If you do, you are the naïve one. You’ve got to know the nature of the person and how to interact.

I know truth when I hear it and I immediately embraced it. This one principle has made a huge difference in how I interact with people. I am the one who has changed, adjusting my expectations on how I know them to be vs. how I wish they were. Here’s an example. There’s a cashier I encounter regularly whenever I shop at my local grocery store in the early morning hours. Her checkout line is the only one open so I’m stuck. I’ve never known her to be in a good mood. She’s cranky, argumentative, and quick to complain about almost everything. I often wonder, “Why did she take a job dealing with customers?” I wish she were nicer, cheerful, kind.

After hearing Dr. Bernard, I decided to change my approach when encountering her. I now anticipate her to be exactly as she’s always been. I don’t expect her to have  had a life transforming experience with Jesus over the weekend (even though that would be wonderful). I tell myself before I get to the register, to remain calm and friendly no matter how difficult she will be. Sure enough, she has been exactly as she is each time, but I’m thankful to say, because I managed my expectations, I was not disappointed. I kept my cool and my Christian witness. She didn’t change, but I did.

God has done something  in my heart. I no longer judge her. I pray for her and now have a sincere desire to understand why she is the way she is. Is she living with a broken heart, broken dreams, or a history of abuse? I’m looking for a way to let her know that God cares. He has already given me a strategy. I’m just waiting for the right time.

All the Time

April 28, 2019

A dear friend since 2nd grade, Marilyn, told me about her meeting with a personal shopper. The lady asked Marilyn when was it most important for her to look her best: at work, home, special occasions, etc. Marilyn responded: “I want to look good all the time.” The personal shopper wanted her to be more specific, selecting one category, so she rephrased the question. Marilyn’s answer was the same: “But I want to look good ALL the time.” I smiled and chuckled when she told me the story.

I would have to say that as adults, every time I’ve seen Marilyn, whether in a casual or church setting, she looks great. I love her sense of style. Since she told me that story, I think, “She really does look good all the time.”

I have often reflected on Marilyn’s dialogue and asked myself, What do I want to be known for ALL the time? The answer always comes with this fill in the blank: “I want to be gracious all the time, kind all the time, prayerful all the time, pleasing to God all the time, loving and wise, especially in how I use my time and my tongue.

I can’t report that I’m there yet, but I can say the desire is strong and I do believe what Philippians 1:6 says: “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He’s the Scholar and I’m the pupil. He promises to make me a new creation in Him. Lord, that’s what I want more than anything.

One Faithful Man

January 27, 2019

Proverbs 20:6 says “A faithful man who can find?” I met one. His name? Carlis Moody, Sr. He set for me the GOLD standard, the marker, of a godly man. I met him the same day I arrived on Northwestern University’s campus in Evanston, IL sight unseen. Before arriving I had prayed consistently to the Lord that while excited about the opportunity to grow intellectually it was equally important for me to continue to grow spiritually. He answered that request. After getting settled into my dorm room I opened a Yellow Pages to locate a church. One specifically caught my eye: Faith Temple Church. I called immediately and found out there was a special service that evening. A lady agreed to pick me up so I could attend. I proudly say I spent my first night away from home in the House of the Lord.

Carlis Moody was the founder and pastor of that small church. He accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior as a child and was ordained at age 16. He became a teenage pastor. He married his wife Mary at age 20. They had four children. I remember him saying how he prayed one day, “Lord, I don’t know how to be a husband or a father. I need you to teach me.” And God did.

Pastor Moody was a man of integrity who feared God. He knew hundreds of passages in the Bible by memory and would recite them before we could find them in our Bibles. Just being around him, there was no doubt that God was the love of His life and He delighted in doing His will. Next, were his wife and children, and then the family of God. He eventually got the opportunity to preach the gospel in 38 countries.

I watched his life closely during my undergraduate and graduate years. I never saw an inconsistency in what he said and what he did. Never a hint of scandal. He kept his life pure. He walked in genuine humility. Bishop Carlis Moody transitioned to his heavenly home on January 12 at the age of 84. Evanston Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd, called Moody “an amazing human being and a perfect example of someone who lived a very purpose-driven life.”

I am without excuse. Bishop Moody confirmed that it is possible to live a holy life in today’s culture. “Thank you Lord for allowing me to intersect with such a man of God.” May I follow in his footsteps, for your glory.



The Mirror

October 21, 2018

If you’re like me one habit prevails every day and that is a look in the mirror, not just one time but several throughout the day. It’s not narcissism but “now-ism.” What has changed and needs to be corrected since the last time I looked? If I see something, I do something about it, if I can. Then I’m on my way. Thank God for mirrors. I may think I’m okay, but the mirror tells me the truth about me. I can’t hide anything. It reveals every blemish, scar, shiny nose, hair out of place, or every sliver of food stuck in my teeth.

God’s Word is my BIG Mirror. It reveals what others cannot see, what’s lodged in my heart. With a glance I realize there is a pinch of pride, a 1/2 cup of criticism, teaspoon of entitlement, and some days a sprinkling of fear. One option is to walk away and do nothing, overwhelmed and disgusted by the residue. The other is to immediately deal with it just as I do after an examination in any mirror that’s close.

James 1:21-25 (NLT) says, “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

It’s humbling to gaze in The BIG Mirror. It always does its job, revealing the crud of sin still lurking in our hearts. But it doesn’t stop there.  God’s grace and mercy provides the power to bring about a complete transformation.




No Matter What

July 1, 2018

Do you really Believe that God is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do? Despite the chaos in the world and in our community, God is still on the throne and not surprised by the evil in the hearts of men.  BELIEVE…to have confidence in the truth, the faith, the existence, or the reliability of something. We may say we believe but our behavior and words can betray us. We read the Bible and attend church, but then spend sleepless nights worrying that our prayers won’t be answered or wondering if God really cares about what we care about.

I find it interesting that we don’t hesitate to put our money in the bank and not think about it anymore until it’s time for a withdrawal. We don’t know the employees personally or ask for their criminal background checks. We trust them, yet we don’t know them.  We board a plane, putting our lives in the hands of someone we’ve never met. We don’t ask to see the pilot’s report cards or college diploma. Sometimes we never see the pilot the entire trip. Yet we sit back, buckle up, and relax with the full expectation that we’ll reach our destination. It doesn’t matter that there have been crashes and casualties. We believe.

The God of the Universe deserves this kind of confidence and much more. His track record is perfect. An authentic belief in God produces an unshakable faith and calm rest no matter what is going on in the world and in our lives. We miss the opportunity to experience this rest when we don’t believe. Hebrews 4:3 (NLT) says: “For only we who believe can enter his place of rest.”

So what about believing the God of the Universe no matter what? Put ALL your hope and trust in Him alone.  I admit at times I’ve been flaky when He isn’t, but when I read His love letter daily (the Bible), my faith is bolstered and I’m confident that my loving Father, the Great God, will handle perfectly anything that comes my way today, and the next day.

It’s Time to Believe!

The Cost of Royalty

April 22, 2018

The countdown is on for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle next month. Despite years of honing her craft as an actress, Meghan is abandoning her career for a “higher” role. She has adopted Great Britain as her new home, learning the customs and the protocol of royalty. She wears hats now and a longer hemline. She converted to the Anglican faith. We’ve heard no complaints from Meghan about what she’s had to give up for love. She appears to relish her new assignment. After all, it’s a girl’s dream to become a princess.

When we accept Christ’s priceless gift of salvation, we immediately become royalty, sons and daughters of the Most High God. It doesn’t get any better than this. The decision requires the relinquishment of our agenda, for His. It calls for a new way of thinking, speaking, living, and a new “royal” wardrobe because wherever we go, we represent His Kingdom. We are charged with  always articulating God’s truths on any subject. Our past pursuits hold no allurement because we have traded them for a much higher calling with absolutely no regrets.

Our royal position counts for eternity. Let’s live it out daily to please the King.


When Prince Harry Met Meghan

January 26, 2018

I am absolutely thrilled about Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle. I’ve read articles about the engagement and watched the interviews and smiled. One reason I’m excited is that both Meghan and I graduated from Northwestern University. Go Wildcats! But the main reason I’m overjoyed is that I’m a romantic at heart and their love story confirms what I’ve been telling singles for years in seminars and in my book 1st Class Single.

If a Man is Interested, He will pursue you!

You won’t have to convince him to make a move. He’s a man. He knows what he wants. Prince Harry was asked when did he know Meghan was the one? He answered, “The first time we met.”

He began pursuing her. They shared in the BBC interview that they never went more than two weeks without getting together. They were on two different continents! He was a prince. She was a busy actress. They found time and made time for each other because the relationship was a priority. Are you in a relationship where he doesn’t have time for you and he lives in the same town or he tells you he doesn’t believe in long distance relationships? Then remember one of my other dating rules:

Look at the Signs…then Wonder!

Prince Harry’s actions spoke louder than his words. He had his choice of many women, but he wanted Meghan! He was willing to defy the critics, the naysayers who objected to him marrying a commoner, a woman of mixed race descent.  Is the man of your dreams giving you an “if only” list? If only you would lose weight, if only you were younger, if only you didn’t have kids, if only? Read the tea leaves: He doesn’t want you. You are NOT his package. Release him. Let him go! The man God has for you will not see you as a liability but as a precious gift. He will accept you and ALL your baggage. We all come with baggage. We are all flawed. Imperfect. We are all sinners in need of the grace of God.

Think about Ruth’s story in the Old Testament. One rich man noticed her and wanted her as his wife. But first, he had to give the option to another relative who could be her kinsman-redeemer. When presented with the opportunity, the other man saw Ruth’s “baggage” as a liability. She (like Meghan) came from a mixed racial heritage the Jews considered inferior. She was poor and a widow. Baggage. But Boaz saw beauty, kindness, virtue, and love. The same woman viewed differently by two different men. She became the great-grandmother of King David. What a royal lineage!

Don’t give up on your dream of being chosen. Be the best of who you are. Don’t apologize about your past, what you cannot control. Meghan says she is proud of her heritage. Be a woman of faith, move forward, and expect your prince to pick you. He will be worth the wait. God always gives His Best to those who leave the choice with Him.


October 29, 2017

It doesn’t matter how you start. It matters how you end the race. Your team can be ahead in the the first, second, and third quarters of the game, and then lose in the fourth quarter. It’s that score that counts. On the other hand, you can be trailing in the first three quarters, and then win the game in the fourth.

Enoch won his race. He was so impressive in how he lived before God that one day God just snatched him up and took him to heaven without experiencing death. We know very little about Enoch. We’re told in Genesis 5 that his father was Jared. Enoch became a father at age 65 to Methuselah who became the oldest man to ever live. He died at age 969. The Bible doesn’t mention anything impressive he did in all those years. But his Dad, “walked with God.”  This is mentioned a second time, “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24). Enoch’s singular focus  landed him in the hall of faith found in Hebrews 11: 5-6: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”

Enoch was consumed with one thing for 300 years of his life: being in relationship with God; loving Him, walking with Him, being in His presence. It was enough to make him a winner in God’s eyes. He didn’t build great monuments, perform miracles, or write books of the Bible. His life pleased God. That’s it.

I want the same commendation Enoch got. I think about this often. I can get it if my life is consumed with one goal: pleasing God. I don’t have to be famous, rich, beautiful, write best-selling books, or be the smartest. I just need to consistently make my #1 pursuit: being in an intimate relationship with God, seeking Him with my whole heart, obeying God, and basking in His love for me.

I want that to be my legacy.

Smoothies and Me

July 30, 2017

I love making and devouring a fruit smoothie. I typically prepare one at least twice a week. At times I’ve taken the smoothie into my bedroom or car. Bad idea. I have wasted smoothies on the carpet and in my car twice. It happened again just this month.  I had just placed the full cup in its proper holder between the front seats. While using my cell phone at a stop light to leave a voicemail message, I quickly moved my right elbow. Immediately there was smoothie in my seat, in between the seat, and on the floor. I thought, “There I go again. What is it with me and smoothies?”

Fortunately I keep plenty of napkins in my car, so at stoplights along the way to my destination, I cleaned as much as I could. I pondered again the question? Why do I keep making the same mistake with smoothies? I may go awhile without an accident, and then another one.

I got the answer. I was not practicing “carefulness” on a consistent basis: to always be on guard, focused, when handling a smoothie given my track record. If I know what I’m prone to do (be careless) then I need to anticipate and be ready for the next occurrence and not assume it won’t happen again.

This requires being truthful about “me,” and being alert and aware of what trips me up. The same principle applies to being truthful about the sins constantly lurking in the heart, waiting to trip me up. The list is different for each person, but there is a list.

Your issue may not be mine, but I have one. That’s why Jesus said, “Watch as well as pray.” Paul wrote, “Be very careful how you walk.” I’ve made a list of what tends to trip me up spiritually and personally.

Daily, my goal is to watch, pray, and walk very carefully. I don’t need another accident, in or out of the car.

Don’t Lose the Awe

April 30, 2017

A dear friend, Michele, will celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary this fall. When she refers to her husband Kyle, she says, “He’s awesome.” I said to her once, “I love the fact that after all these years of marriage, and living with Kyle day in and day out, you still view him as “awesome.” She gave a big smile and said, “Yes.”

I’ve often thought of Michele’s exuberance for her mate when I reflect on what God desperately longs for…that we would always be in awe of Him. Awe is an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration. It was there when we encountered God for the first time and gladly received His gift of salvation through His Son Jesus. We were so grateful that He took care of a debt we could never pay. We were overcome with joy. I still remember the Tuesday night I invited Christ into my life. I was a child who desperately needed a Savior. I was overcome with His great love for me.

Since then I’ve said to God many times, “I will never get over your affection for me. I reserve the use of the word awesome only for you. May my love for you only intensify and never grow stale.” A marriage flourishes when a couple makes it a priority to admire and affirm each other daily and not take each other for granted.  It blossoms when they think of each other throughout the day, surprise each other with gifts and cards, and have eyes only for the other.

God Our Creator and Redeemer desires no less. I’ve made an intentional decision to talk “love” talk to Him daily and show my love by His love language: obedience.

“Lord, may I never lose the awe.”