maskheraid

…the grand facade, so soon will burn….

In Your Eyes, Peter Gabriel

For 30+ years now, I have sung this song, one of my faves, especially the delicate remake by Nichole Nordeman.

Today i heard another word in place of ‘grand facade’: ‘masquerade.

And in that split second of awareness that can only come from Godly given insight, I clearly knew God wants me to let go of my mask.

The mask that has been aiding me, hiding me & protecting me from the world around me.

I can relate to a few animals in the animal kingdom.  Fox. Cat. Song Birds.

Unless they are raising young, they tend to be solitary creatures, living mainly lonely existences to the outsider looking in. But they don’t care about what we think, their instinct is to hide when they are afraid.

Unless I lay down my mask, I will end up the same. Except I care too much sometimes what others think about me at times, and I am tired of hiding.

Why I am afraid? I fear that if everyone really knew the real me, they and deep deep down, God, wouldn’t like me.

The mask that was supposed to aid me was in fact an enemy designed cover causing me harm.

That’s right. When we wear masks (not when we are paid actors or acting for a scene in a play, mind you) we align ourselves with the enemy.

That isn’t any good for anyone who is one of God’s children, which we ultimately all are.

God wants us to be who He has made us to be, not hiding behind masks.

I have a few small tattoos that I got several years ago on an impulsive whim. They irked my hubby (the shock of no notice and he doesn’t like the dark black ink color) and so I have covered them up and had them lightened a bit. Masking over what I liked. (Note: Hubby has since said his issue with them doesn’t mean I have to keep them covered up when I am around him.)

Now I am aware of cultural differences, and so in my work settings where it would potentially be offensive, I do not show them off but easily keep them covered under work attire.

I am free to show them, but choose to respect the views of those around me. I am not hiding them out of fear.

In the same way, our masks that hide our true nature need to come down, yet we are to be respectful of those around us while being true to who we are.

I am an artsy writer singer tea lover momma friend who loves God.

As I take my worn mask off, I realize that I can truly not hide who I am anymore. I could only squelch it for moments, maybe even hours, but the mask was never meant to be worn long term like our true identity is.

Stop settling for a second rate version of who God designed you to be, and take a look at yourself through His eyes:

Treasured
Adored
Redeemed
Unique
Image bearer of God

That’s right.

We were made to reveal His image to the world around us.

Wearing a mask cheapens our look and limits our ability to radiate the Son.
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Am i all of a sudden comfortable speaking up for myself in some areas where I have been masquerading?

Not really, to be completely honest. I just emailed someone to make an offer of help who may not receive it well. I followed His lead, and was myself in a way that may make the reader uncomfortable.

But I know the one who will give me the right words to say, reveal the timing of when I am to say them, and prepare the heart of the one i am to speak it to. My part is to stay real before Him. And on the days when I need the reminder, I tell myself:

God loves you.

Just as you are.

Despite your foibles, pimples, quirks, mistakes, impulsiveness and everything in between!

He died for us in an eternal display of grace and love while ripping the mask of religion in two.

The veil was masking God from His people. By destroying it He re-veiled Himself, stripping the mask and shining His true image for the world to see.

I am a little apprehensive and excited all rolled into one as to what my giving up my mask will look like.

However, as I increasingly get to know the God I follow, I am comforted to know that He knows the plans He has for me, plans for blessing, hope and a future beyond what i can see right here, in this now.

I will be able to see His face all the clearer without my mask.

I can feel how much He loves me when I come, just as I am, and let His love wash over me in a river of undeserved but oh so appreciated grace, and see how He will increasingly reveal Himself to and through me as I stop hiding.

How about you?

its time to bloom

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Photo by @khjlees

Its time to bloom.

There is only so much watering, feeding, sun & deepening we are meant to experience before we are to show the inner qualities meant to be shared with those around us.

Some are meant to help in practical ways: fire, police, armed forces, EMR staff. Doctors, nurses, dentists, physios, chiropractors. Childcare workers, teachers. Taxi, bus & train drivers.

Some are meant to help support in sometimes less obvious ways: pastors, counselors, volunteers, receptionists, baristas & wait staff. The friend who brings a meal when you have lost a loved one. The person who pays a bill for you when you lost your job. The drive to the appointment when you don’t have a car. The loved one who let’s you cry on their shoulder, not saying a word but comforting you with their presence. When you forgot your wallet or your bank card, and they say don’t worry about it, the coffee’s on me.

Those who create beauty to bless us: in word, created images, photography, music, dance, craftsmanship, gardening, landscaping.

Those who inspire us to dream big and aim high:
The athletes, the inspirational speakers, the people who come to the aid of their neighbors in emergencies, those who seemingly start out with less who remarkably  end up with more despite their lack.

Whatever your gift may be, the world needs you to know three things about it:

1. You were intended.
God designed you to have exactly what you will need to offer in the right time.

2. You are needed.
Your part added to the mix can never be duplicated by any one else.

3. Your contribution will, and does, matter.
Whether you feel its small or not, somehow as you offer it, God grows your part to become exactly what is needed.

The Son is calling you. Its time to be the you God designed, and bloom wherever you are planted.

bless from the mess

You catch way more flies with honey than vinegar.

-Unknown

I recently had a gear shift, or what you may refer to as an ‘aha’ moment.

I have a few friends who are both teachers.

My newest friend of the two finally felt she found the school she was meant to stay in, and was unsure there would be a place for her next year. She was almost heartbroken at the thought of moving on, and couldn’t see how it could happen for her to stay.

I prayed for her, asking God to move whichever teacher at that school who was waiting for their dream job/blessing on, so that the position would become available for my friend. Not what this person was expecting. A little taken aback by my approach, she also prayed the same way.

One of her coworkers shortly after shared that they got word their “dream job” had opened up for them, and space was made at the school for my new friend to stay there next year.

My other close friend has had a really rough year at her current school, without a great deal of internal support. Mess is an understatement for her year of extreme stress. I quietly prayed that God would move out into a better position whomever was needed for her to have a better year if she was meant to stay, or else open up an admin leave for her. As the year was an emotional rollercoaster, she was unsure which door she was meant to go through. The main person involved has recently been promoted out, leaving the door open for blessings to come without my friend needing to leave.

Praying God opens a door for someone else waiting can help us while we wait for ours to open.

Why pray for others? Why not just pray for our needs?

When I look at Jesus in the Word, I see a man of compassion for those who are struggling or hurt around Him. I see miracles, healings and deep care for those He blessed.

Why not bless someone else too while we pray about our need?

Jesus poured out His very life for those He loved, which was everyone.

We can have a positive impact by praying blessing on others….so why not ask Jesus to bless them too?

It could lead to their discovering who He is, how much He loves them and what He has done for them.

So I choose to pray blessing for those I work for, blessing on those in know who are waiting for doors to open, and blessing on those who are waiting for their doors to open.

We serve a big God. There is no reason why He won’t choose to bless if we ask Him to, even setting off a blessing chain reaction of open doors swinging wide before their King!

If God intends for you to walk through a door, He will open it for you. His Word promises His plans are good for us, and will come to pass when we seek Him first. Don’t be afraid to pray for the door to open if you know that you know that is where God wants you to go!

And if your coworker or neighbor or friend gets blessed in the process, even better šŸ˜‰
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messy

People are messy; therefore, relationships will be messy. Don’t be surprised by messiness.

-Tim Keller

Life is messy.

Not just your space when you share it with others, or don’t tidy up after yourself.

People all have their own way of thinking, and expectations of how things will/should/could be…
and that difference truly makes life messy.

The real messiness comes out in how we each express our mess:

Harsh words flung like stones

Unforgiveness bouncing genuine repentance back in your face

Slander sticking like mud balls

Gossip burning in your ears as whispers occur behind your back

Neglect causing love to wilt, lose its bloom

Denial destroying the possibility of something new

Selfishness messing up the inside as well as your surroundings

Life is a mess.

Quite frankly, we are all at times, as my Nana used to say, in need of a swift boot to the backside, as we are obviously a few cards short of a deck.

Because humanity continually messes everything up, as is pretty self evident from history, Jesus came to earth.

The mess got a personal message from God Himself:

There is another way.

By letting go of our inner mess, and all that word bundles together within each of us, God releases the Spirit to fill us with all we need to stay healthy, love one another well, and live a life with purpose.

Our mess becomes transformed into a message.

A beacon to those lost on their own messes, struggling to keep their heads above water, losing hope, just surviving each day.

Your past does not guarantee you a future down that path.

Your future is only set based on one decision.

Will you let the Message take you, mess that you are, and transform you into His messenger to a hurting, messed up world?

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blown it?

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Ever have days where you feel like you have blown it so badly, there is no hope for you?

I can relate.

I have wished, like many of you, I could take back that dumb comment, kept my mouth shut,
stayed out of ‘it’,
handled ‘it’ differently,
or knew then what I know now.

But there is nothing I have done that makes me too far gone for God to reach out for me.
Restore me.
Love up on me.
Want me as His.

When we come and tell Him how much we need Him, knowing all the wrong we do and are capable of, and ask Him to help us become new…
He does.

His Spirit can blow into the slightest crack if you leave it open.

There are days, moments & memories where I wished at those times that I had not blown it.

The items I have purchased i didn’t need.

The friends I didn’t reach out to, letting those relationships fade into the background as work took the foreground.

The times of hanging out with God I missed out on as I was too busy to stop and smell the daffodils (I am allergic to roses!)

The words I missed speaking because i was too afraid to share them at the time.

The words I hurled as weapons, ready to hurt the receiver as much as they had hurt me with their words.

In each of the many situations where i have blown it, the Spirit was there, waiting for me to incline my ear to His direction, His whispers of wisdom, listening to His love for me.

Each day, each moment is a new chance to follow where and how the Spirit leads.

Don’t miss out because you can’t forgive yourself for the past.

Let the Spirit blow freshness, new insight and an overwhelming sense of love & peace into you, as you surrender the what was and move into the what can be.

Together with the Spirit, blow out the cobwebs and blow in His presence as He fills you.

better things ahead

When your life is filled with potholes, valleys and pain, its hard to see the mountains.

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But God,
the eternal
forever
all powerful
Provider
Redeemer
Restorer
More than able
Healer
Lover of our souls
Maker of heaven & earth
Before all time
promises….
We have good things coming.
Good things are in store for us up ahead.

Just because we can see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there in our future.

Like me, you may have experienced horrors you were almost crushed by.
You are still here.

You may have had your dignity and innocence stripped away against your will.
You are still here.

You may have felt loneliness to the point of despair, and almost lost yourself in the depths you found there.
You are still here.

If you believe in God,
know He is for you,
you need to believe His word will come to pass
and He is who He says He is.

For you are still here,
which is not an accident.

You are still here
because God made a way for you to make it through your past.

You have good things ahead in store for you.

Its time to let down your burdens,
step away from your past,
(which is your history but not you)
let God in,
and begin to hope,
dream,
soar again.

With God, there is no such thing as too far gone, or too big a situation for Him to enter into on your behalf.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

I know what Iā€™m doing. I have it all planned outā€”plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

Jeremiah 29:11 MSG

looking back

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There were two ways to look back.

One is healthy, the other an addiction.

One acknowledges your history, looking over your past as if you were flipping through a magazine, with a few key images, major highlights and the necessary details inside.
This way acknowledges where you came from, but you have been set free from the moments that harmed you, so although they are still in your history, they aren’t in the forefront of your mind. You might go for a brief visit, but you don’t stay.

Some look back like their lives are editions of the encyclopedia, going into every detail possible, used for referencing over and over and over again.

Or a DVD, where you can pause and live certain moments over and over and over again, as often as you can.

Some also records the sounds, smells, tastes and feelings in such a way that a recall can trigger a memory or cause a relapse to another time.

One way of looking back allows you to be free. To take that freedom and help others find their new future. To truly live, work, love as a God intended you to. Living in the present, hopeful for the future.

The other? Binds you in such a way that you feel like you are stuck in a puddle of quicksand, constantly afraid of going under, never able to get out on your own. You can’t move on.

When your past seems more real than your present, you are not free.

Its time to leave the garbage, hurts, broken dreams, wounds and everything else you don’t want to keep your eyes fixed on, and bring them to God.

The one who made us knows the way to our freedom.

Find a wise counselor, and press in to leave your past behind you, once and for all. This may happen quickly, or over time. You may need to go back to school to reconnect with who you really are, and are going to be once you have tasted the freedom God has for you.

I have been set free from the major hurts in my past. It was not easy in the beginning, but becoming whole is a journey. I am still seeing a counselor to learn healthier ways to express myself and take care of me. These lessons remain with me now that the pain of my past has been laid to rest, at the foot of the cross where they belong.

Pressing onwards, keeping my eyes on the hope of the future.

Take control of your past, before it overwhelms your present and steals your future.

Freedom is calling….