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Surrendering My Inflated Expectations for the Best Balloon Filled Birthday

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Have you planned something that didn’t live up to your expectations?

Part of surrender for me has been a sloooooow, sometimes painful, opening of my hands to let my expectations be less important than God’s outcomes.

Case in point: Thomas our son on the autism spectrum’s birthday.

I try to make birthdays special for my family. It might be as simple as their favorite meal prepared for dinner or as major as covering the bathroom mirror with post it notes that say, “Happy Birthday.” One of my favorite celebratory schemes is to create an avalanche of balloons to greet them as they open the front door. It takes a fair amount of planning and preparation to pull one off successfully.

  • You have to buy the balloons and blow them up.

  • You have to place them in a way that they fall when the birthday person opens the door.

  • You have to go in and out of the garage because you’ve spent time and effort blocking the front door with balloons.

Okay…I use an electric air pump to blow up the balloons.

Both my daughter and husband have received the balloon avalanche greeting for a birthday. Both my daughter and husband displayed excitement and exuberant enthusiasm as balloons rained down on them on their special day.

I had put in the love and labor to create this magical memory and I received the thanks and praise and appreciation I expected.

I received. I expected.

For Thomas’s birthday, his 18th birthday, I decided to prepare a celebratory birthday balloon avalanche to greet him after school. I had not crafted a balloon avalanche for him in his 18 years in our family.

Why hadn’t I? I wasn’t sure if he’d appreciate it.

No…that’s not quite it.

I wasn’t sure if he’d appreciate me.

Was it worth the preparation and planning to receive no thanks and no praise and no appreciation?

I’d love to tell you I do things for my family with our any expectation of thanks and praise and appreciation.

But that would make me a liar.

His 18th birthday came.

I fashioned a birthday balloon avalanche with colorful balloons filled with love and electric pumped air to rain down on him after school.


And when he opened the door….

He did not display excitement and exuberant enthusiasm as balloons rained down on him. He walked straight into the house and said he was going to throw rocks at them.

He might have mumbled a bit of colorful language as well. 😳

Not the response for which I was hoping.

But given the chance, would I do it again?


“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:8

With someone on the autism spectrum, you don’t know how they might respond. But if I never put in the love and labor to create a magical memory, I will never know. It’s not about my expectations. It’s about trusting God with the outcomes. Perhaps Thomas felt something different than what his less-than-positive response would indicate. Perhaps the next time he will respond differently. Perhaps Thomas will always respond with a comment about rock throwing and an inappropriate expletive.

Am I suppose to put in the labor and love ONLY if I can guarantee the response?

But do we really ever know how anyone will respond? Like the encounter with the “I’m not poor” young mom at Winco from my January blog, people do not always response as we expect.

No where in Micah 6:8 is an expect thanks and praise and appreciation. God takes care of the outcomes. We’re just called to do the justice, kindness, and walk humbly with God.

So as we move forward through February and march into…March, let’s surrender our expectations for balloon avalanches, buying hair ties for moms in the grocery store check out, and since I’m writing this on February 14th, Valentine’s Day.

How did your expectations for THAT go? 🤣😬😵‍💫

😉Maybe that’s a different post.

Shine Bright.

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