It was the beginning of my school year in high school. My voice teacher asked me to play the Star Spangled Banner for the opening of the assembly -- with about 300 or more students in the audience. I expected to be able to play the song, however when I checked the key, it was covered with cloth tape. I knew that the song had flats but not how many. I decided the best thing to do was to add flats until it sounded right. I began with octaves - F - D - B and realized immediately that I needed to flat the B. I expected success - and Francis Scott Key squirmed in his grave as he heard his masterpiece - keyless - played by a clueless blonde.
An expectation needs more than good thoughts -- an expectation needs a foundation - we don't always get what we expect, or expect what we get. The secret is to choose carefully what we expect. Expectations gone awry can cause a great deal of suffering and grief.
A few months later, my Dad traded his post office job for a rural route in a town 50 miles away in Oklahoma. We even traded houses and Dad threw in my accordian as well. Dad expected to slide into a job, that didn't require miles of walking....he bought a 1945 Red Sedan Ford, thinking about a restful drive in the country. What he didn't expect was a flat tire after flat tire from nails left at every mail box, a legacy of reflection of the previous mail carrier. Dad bought a magnet on a long stick, and cleaned up every mail box stop. The new tires ate into our slim budget. The house was not a good fit, so we made a deal to move to the next house north in Watonga. More money. We didn't always have some of the things we needed, and I found out later that Mom often held Dad at night as he sobbed. He felt like such a failure, he second-thought his decision. They prayed and prayed until exhausted, they both fell asleep. This circumstance was not according to their expectations.
The anticipation and expectancy left a little to be desired. There was a happy ending however - with postal patrons helping Dad, watching for him, pulling him out of snow banks, and mud-stuck. Dad, in turn, delivered baby chickens, stamps, arranged weddings and funerals, reading letters in German and translated, comforting those who lost loved ones. He became a the mailman who was loved.
Expectation is anticipation and expectancy - eagerness and excitement. Sixteen was a big year for me - to wear Tangee lipstick, get a driver's license, and date boys. The anticipation was pretty exciting. Of course, these activities also had their down times, lipstick had to be re-applied, driving safely was expected of me and dating boys had its own set of rules. Graduating from high school was another time of excitement - yet the decisions for education and leaving the safety net of home demanded some concern and thought. Marriage, too, is a time of dreams and happily ever after. After the honeymoon is over, and reality sets in, then comes the need for understanding and learning to live together according to God's plan in I Corinthians 13. When small annoyances of your spouse become endearing, you truly become one. When your goals and aspirations link together, just as your hands did in early courtship, there is living as one....truly one.
As I read a portion of the History and Genealogy of the Jacob Loewen Family written by my great Uncle Solomon Loewen, I thought about my great-grandmother - Justina Leppke Loewen, his mother. What were her expectations? What did she think about leaving Russia, and traveling across the ocean to America, an unknown land? What did she pack for the journey? What did she leave behind?
Justina Leppke was 17 years old when the family decided to emigrate to America with other Mennonite families. However their emigration was delayed for a year. They came over in 1875 on the S.S. Bolivia, leaving Glasgow, Scotland, and arriving July 1, in New York. They were the only Mennonite family of 267 passengers. The family arrived at Peabody, Kansas on 7 July and moved in with Peter Nikkel family a mile ease and half north of the Ebenfeld church. The Nikkel home was small - two rooms, a lean-to kitchen and a cellar. Crowded quarters for two families to live together, even for just 2 weeks.
When we talk about families, we are talking about 10 children in the Leppke family - the oldest 22 years and the youngest 3 years. Justina always found the bright side of the pioneer life, and with cheerful optimistic remarks lightened the burdens of those around her. When I compare my life at 17 with my G-Grandmother Justina's, I am shamed. For a room of her own was unknown, running water or A/C was unheard of, watching tv, a day at the mall, getting a car of her own was not even a dream. There was no need of an allowance, for they seldom went to town. Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs were prized.
Justina's father bought some land and soon after they were settled, she found work as a household maid and cook in the Jacob Loewen Sr.'s home. She demonstrated her ability as a good cook and homemaker, and that with her usual cheerful disposition were noticed by the son of Jacob Loewen Sr. Both sets of parents - the Leppke's and Loewens gave permission for a wedding. So it was that after three years in this country, Justina found herself a young bride, at 20 years, and her wedding present from her father-in-law was a sack of flour. There was no honeymoon, and they made their first home in the basement apartment of the groom's parents.
Anna Loewen, the first child, was born there.
They soon moved to a rental farm where Katharina was born. Now Justina was 24 years old, in a new country. What were her dreams, her expectations? Did she expect to have 13 more children, one of whom was stillborn baby? Did she expect Anna Loewen Suderman to endure having four babies die? Did she expect to see Anna's first granddaughter 80 years ago? Did she ever long for her childhood in Chortiz, Russia?
God created all of us, His expectations were that we would love Him and choose Him to worship. Although He knew what our choices would be, He still loves us unconditionally enough to send His Only Begotten Son, Jesus to save us from our sins.
Are our expectations earth-bound or heaven-bound? When we care more for our physical world than our spiritual world, our expectations need adjustment. Our excitement and eagerness to draw another breath doesn't come from job successes, earning more money, or the number of degrees that follow our names, it comes from a foundational belief in our Lord.
II Timothy 1:12 - I have no regrets. I couldn't be more sure of my ground—the One I've trusted in can take care of what he's trusted me to do right to the end.Life holds many opportunities for living expectantly. My Grandmother wrote a letter near the end of her life -- she expected her children and grandchildren to live so that they could join her in heaven. Mom echoed that thought. My husband's father also had something similar. After 8 decades of living, that becomes the most important expectation for me, too.
Expectation includes trust and hope. While reading, Expect the Light by Gene Shelburne, I came upon this thought, "The secret of survival lies in an unshakable faith that eve when the clouds of life are darkest, the sun of God's grace shines undimmed above. And we know at any moment, perhaps soon, we will bask once more in its warmth and glory. To make it through today, EXPECT the light."
I listened to a little lady, in a nursing home, asking if she could soon go home. I knew that she would never return to her earthly home. My prayer that day was to always be aware of my real home - my heavenly home.
Romans 12:11-12 - Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.Comments