Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Masks We Wear

With Halloween upon us… I’ve been thinking about how kids love to dress-up. They are so excited to choose a costume for Halloween. A lot of thought and consideration is given to what they want “to be”. They not only put on their costumes but they get into character as well. They wear that role with pride in their steps as they parade around the neighborhood collecting compliments with each piece of candy.

 For one night, the children get to be someone different… they get to play a role. They go to bed full of sweets and a sense of accomplishment.

I wonder if this is where the desire for adults to wear masks comes from. Do we learn from this childhood tradition that wearing masks is a way to become someone different? Different than we are. Different than what we have become. A disguise is easier to put on than the truth. A costume is simpler to assemble than reality. Do we hide behind these masks as if they are shields of protection? Guarded, shielded, hidden, disguised, and protected from revealing our true identity.

Wearing a mask was meant to be a child’s game. The danger of adults playing this game is that we keep the mask on for too long. Instead of just being temporary it becomes permanent.  The mask wearing distorts our reality. After wearing the mask long enough… we begin to accept that mask as our reality.  Ultimately, we become defined by the mask we wear. The line of where we begin and the mask ends…become unclear.

You may enjoy wearing the mask and believe that it serves a purpose in your world. You may even enjoy the image the mask portrays; however, the person you are hurting with the mask is yourself. That unclear boarder of the real you and the mask puts a wedge between you and others. Whether the relationship is between you and another person or you and God; it is a barrier preventing genuine relationships. This protective barrier may prevent some of the bad from penetrating you but it also prevents the good.

To have genuine relationships, to be true to yourself, to allow God into your heart, to accept your actual reality… you must hang up the mask. Be vulnerable! Be exposed! Reveal your hidden identity! As long as you keep wearing that mask you will remain one layer apart from others.

Children understand that Halloween is just one night. They wake-up the next morning and they are back to themselves… vulnerable, exposed, and their true identity revealed. They hang-up their mask. It is time for you to take off your mask too. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

People Watching… putting people into boxes

I love to people watch! And, there is some good people watching to be had in Las Vegas. There is a diverse crowd of people who are attracted to the lights like a moth to a flame.  It is definitely a spectators sport!

There are impersonators, working girls, old and young, rich and poor, gamblers, partiers, sightseers, foreigners, and locals. Every race, religion, and sexual orientation is represented in the crowds. As if the sights, sounds, and smells of Las Vegas aren’t overwhelming enough… the people you watch can over stimulate your senses. They are a sight to see.

As I people watched in Las Vegas, I judged a bit. Okay maybe judge isn’t the right action…categorized is more accurate. My OCD of organization even spills into the act of people watching. I put these strangers into the shoe boxes in my mind… I organize them… I sort them out… I made differentiations between them… I am giving order to the chaos.

But, really… ultimately what I am doing is defining who I am by reducing them to who I think they are. In categorizing as I people watch I say that I am not like them so they go in this box. Or, I am kind of like them so they fit nicely in that box. Or, they are so different from therefore they go in a box all the way over there.

One thing I am working on doing is forming new boxes. These boxes are much bigger than my original shoe boxes. They are like a Rubbermaid box… big, flexible, durable, and the lid goes on and off so easily. I am trying to transfer people into this box. Transfers require a lot of paperwork and negotiating… but the process is getting easier on me. This new box is the “They are different from me but that’s okay… different is good… different doesn’t mean wrong just different… and, maybe we really aren’t THAT different after all.” Yeah, it is a long title. But, nothing short of that will do.

So, as I people watch or evaluate people in my life I am narrowing down my boxes… I am re-organizing my categories… instead of differences I am trying to see some similarities. Because really… we are all alike… we want to be loved, accepted, and we want to belong.

I love to see the sights of people walking by… I invite them into my new and improved bigger box. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Losing My Leaves Like the Fall Trees

“All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried.” ~Donald Miller

Ahhhhto be a tree! There is so much we could learn from trees. Especially this time of the year as they are losing their leaves. I think about the leaves that I am having to shed in my life right now and this quote met me in that place slapped me in the face really.

Why cant we be more graceful in our seasons of life like a tree? Instead of allowing our leaves to fall we hold on to them. Even if those leaves are decaying on our brancheswe hold on to them for dear life. Or, if our leaves do fall sometimes we try to pick them up and stuff them in our pockets just to hold on a bit longer. Because they dont serve us anymore those dead leaves just end up crumbling in our pockets.

We must be barren for a while vulnerable to the elements in order to grow and sprout anew. We must let the old dying leaves go so that new leaves can bud on our branches.

When the season comes for my leaves to begin falling I worry and stress over what the new leaves will look like and feel like on my branches. I am concerned about new leaves ever growing back. I fight the season change. I mourn the loss of each little leaf as it falls. They were a part of me. They defined me.

As my branches lay open and nude and raw in the sun and wind and rain I feel their loss. I feel their yearning to be full of life again.

Yet, the tree doesnt scramble for its leaves. The tree doesnt keep the decaying leaves on its branches. The tree knows that those old leaves arent serving it well any longerso the tree lets them go with such grace. The tree allows each leaf to blow away with the passing wind waving them a farewell. The tree doesnt wither in grief for its loss. Nor does it mourn the passing of a season. The tree stands tall and proud with bare branches open wide in the elements as it awaits its next season. 

I will become more like a tree. I will embrace each season as it passes looking forward to the next. My bare branches are vulnerable, open, nude, and raw. Come leaves come sit on my branches... even if it is just for one season.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Preparing the Child for the Path (the pocket companion version)

Since my son was born I have known that I was preparing him for the world…preparing him to be independent and separate from me. I have been stretched a little bit more as a parent lately. Required to grow. Required to let go just a little bit more. Required to let him walk on.

I am preparing my child for the path… not preparing the path for my child.

I cannot pick-up every stone along the path so that he will not trip. I cannot smooth the bumps and fill the divots so that he does not stumble. I cannot push the boulders out of the way so that he will not fall.

Actually, I can do all of those things; however, in doing so I am preparing the path for my child.

To prepare my child for the path… I can teach him how to navigate around the stones, bumps, divots, and boulders. I can teach him how to gracefully trip, stumble, and fall. I can teach him how to get back-up again, dust himself off, and continue on the path a little wiser and a little better for having fallen. I can prepare my child for the path by allowing him to walk the path laid before him… after all, it is his path… not mine. I can offer suggestions or point out the best route but ultimately it is my son’s choice… my son’s journey… my son’s path.

I am just a pamphlet on a self-guided tour… a pocket companion to point out the sights and features… a directory of recommended paths to sojourn through.

He may choose to forge a new path through the mountain. One of his very own. He may choose to take a well worn path. One with signs and markers along the way. He may end up at a beautiful waterfall. He may take the scenic route. He may end up at a level plain. Whatever path he chooses… I will be there to encourage him as he navigates through the path, teach him how to read the compass and find direction with purpose, and offer him a tri-fold, glossy, self-guided pamphlet. But, it is all ultimately his choice.

I will prepare my child for the path… not the path for my child. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Ten… just three little letters. It is a small little word. In those three little letters there has been a lot of memories. Ten is how many years I have been his mommy.

It is hard to believe that ten years has passed since the first time I met him, the first time I held him, and the first time I looked into his big blue eyes. It is even harder to imagine a time in my life where he hasn’t been in my heart. I am forever changed. I am forever a better person. I am forever his mommy. He will forever have my heart.

I tell him that his birthday is my favorite day of the year. It is my favorite day because it is the day he came into my life… the day that God gave me the greatest gift EVER!

Ten. Two hand fulls. Double digits. Happy Birthday to my one and only! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Year He Broke the Code of Childhood Games

He figured it out! He asked me… I couldn’t lie… I couldn’t turn the question around on him, “What do you think?” He told me to tell him truth.  I had to give-up… give-in… come clean.

A few days ago, my son asked me if I was the one who moved Little Elf (Elf on the Shelf). He demanded to know. I demanded to know why he was asking. Did someone say something to him?

I looked into his sky blue eyes and told him the truth, “Yes, I move Little Elf.” There were mixed emotions flowing from his stare… a bit of betrayal, a bit of mystery and a bit of excitement as if he just figured out the code of his childhood.

He had a ton more questions. He couldn’t figure out how I got Little Elf to the North Pole every night. He wanted to know why I moved Little Elf… why did I buy things for Little Elf to leave for him? My response was that it was a game. I did it because he enjoyed it so much, it was exciting, it was fun!

I asked him if he still wanted me to play the game of Little Elf. He said, “No, I’m ten now.” Well... he is almost ten. And, as if him turning ten wasn’t hard enough on me. Now he doesn’t want to play the games that have been a tradition of his childhood years. My one and only is growing up. The seriousness of adolescence is sneaking up on us.

Ten with forever be known as the year he broke the code of childhood games. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wrapping up the package of this past year in order to receive the gift of a new year…

Each passing year of life is not only a gift I receive from God… it is a gift I am giving to the world. I am not ready to accept this new year of life because this past year of life has a few unwrapped packages of its own… with a few bows that didn’t get put on top… with some of the tape peeling off. How do I present those gifts to the world? They are still un-presentable… un-givable.  

I say that I am in denial about my birthday; however, what I really mean to say is that I’m not ready to wrap up a new year of life yet. I can’t just give a gift without all of the proper finishing touches. I feel myself frantically, last minute, trying to get things all wrapped up in a neat little package with a bow on top.

I began praying for understanding, appreciation, and clarity for this past year… I prayed for wisdom, courage, strength, boldness, love, and blessings for this new year. Through my prayers, God gave me another gift last night… the gift to stop grieving the loss of another year so that I can move on to a new year of life with peace and certainty that He knows the plans He has for me.

Each cut… each crease… each fold… each pressed seam… each taped edge… each curled ribbon… each tied bow… each package this past year of life has given me just finished wrapping up right before my eyes. And, just like that my heart is ready to receive the gift of a new year of life. Just in time for its delivery.