We Wear the Mask

I haven’t been able to get this poem out of my head since I heard an excerpt yesterday. I had to share it.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask!

Yes

It’s funny how sometimes when you’re in the midst of thinking you just can’t continue with the task you’ve been given, God sends people to you to remind you of his power and grace.  That has been most of this week for me and I am so thankful.

“Yes” by Skekinah Glory playing in my head all week has been another way God has kept my mind on his will.  It has been a blessing this week.  I hope it blesses someone else.

 

 

 

Psalm 40:8

I take joy in doing your will, my God,
    for your instructions are written on my heart.

Psalm 40:8

 

Lord, this is what I want.  Give me the joy that comes from doing your will.  Amen.

Just Out for a Walk

Yesterday was our neighborhood-wide garage sale.  We chose not to participate this year because I simply could not get it together, but the older kids asked if we could walk around and see what others were selling.  I told them we could get out before the weather turned unbearably hot.  Against my better judgment I let the younger two ride their bicycle and tricycle.  With their money in hand I set out with my little shoppers.

As we travelled down the sidewalk I quickly realized the error in my plan.  If 2 of my 3 kiddos were riding bikes, how would they carry their loot?  Not long after that, I realized that wasn’t my only issue.  We were walking a path we’ve walked many times before.  I was accustomed to helping my youngest over the bumps and cracks in the sidewalk.  Usually a little push is all she needs every now and then, but there was so much to look at with the garage sales she found it hard to keep her eyes on the sidewalk.  She kept veering off the sidewalk and getting stuck in the space between the path and the lawns we were passing. I had to repeatedly pull her trike back onto the sidewalk. Talking to her and repeatedly saying, “Keep you eyes on the sidewalk” did not help.  Eventually I found myself getting frustrated because it was happening so often.  As I was opening my mouth to say, “Please just follow the path!”, I felt the need to close my mouth.

All of a sudden I could hear the voice in my head say, “Like you?” I couldn’t say a word because all these words started flooding my mind. “How many times have you been so distracted by everything around you that you ended up off track? There is a path laid for you and yet everything else grabs your attention and you struggle to simply continue ahead on the ‘sidewalk’ I’ve given you.  I’ve helped you over bumps in the road only to see you distracted by something you thought was greener pasture.  I’ve tugged and tugged at you to help set your ‘handle bars’ straight again and again.”  Wow! I was NOT expecting that.  We were just out for a walk.

The truth is for me it’s been really hard to follow the path.  I’ve asked for God to simply give me the next step and there have been many days I parked myself on the side and refused to move.  Other times the life I think I want or should have looks as interesting to me as the box of stuffed animals that caused my little one to roll into the grass.  Apparently it’s hard for me to follow the path too.

Lord, thank you for all the ways you continue to speak and guide.  Thank you for reminding me what kind of child I am.  Thank you for all the times you wouldn’t allow me to stay stuck where I was.  Thank you for your loving patience and kindness.  If I for a minute thought I could be frustrated after a few minutes, I cannot  imagine how you have felt after years. I pray you will give me the strength and courage to follow your will and stay the course. Amen.

Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:6

 

Habakkuk 2:1-5

I will stand at my watchpost,

and station myself on the rampart;

I will keep watch to see what he

will say to me,

and what he will answer concerning my complaint.

Then the Lord answered me and said;

Write the vision;

make it plain on tablets,

so that a runner may read it.

For there is still a vision for the appointed time;

it speaks of the end, and does

not lie.

If it seems to tarry, wait for it;

it will surely come, it will not delay.

Look at the proud!

Their spirit is not right in them,

but the righteous live by

their faith.

 

Moving Forward

My oldest two have been attending VBS at a friend’s church this week.  Tonight when they came home I asked, “What was the lesson today?”  After some back and forth with my son, who originally couldn’t remember, he finally answered, “Oh yeah! We talked about how to listen to God’s will.” Yep, that sounds about right.  That’s what I’ve been hearing every day this week.  I love God and his confirmation.  It just keeps coming.  God, help me to keep moving.

What Does The Lord Require of You?

I feel like I don’t have much to say right now, but I can’t get this verse and song out of my head tonight, so here I am at the computer.  Over and over I keep hearing “What does the Lord require of you?”  There are so many things God has spoken to me; sometimes I find it hard to prioritize, but lately, I’ve simply been frozen by my fears.  I’ve been allowing the “what if’s” to crowd out His voice.

God is faithful at sending messages and nudges and beautiful people to continue to provide flickers of light.  I hear the words of one of my dearest now, “Your problem isn’t clarity; it’s obedience.”

Maybe you are like me.  Maybe you know what God is calling and requiring of you, but scared to move forward.  He’s shown you over and over again how faithful He is, but still you hesitate. Maybe you are scared of what it will cost you. We know how to make things more difficult than they have to be.  I don’t know what your call is or what’s holding you back, but I pray you too will start to move forward.  Please pray for me too.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,

what God is looking for in men and women. 

It’s quite simple:  Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,

be compassionate and loyal in your love,

And don’t take yourself too seriously-take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 MSG

 

What Am I Doing?

I was raised by a single mother. She was young when I was born. For the first few years of my life she managed to work full time and attend college full time. My hat still goes off to her because I was completely overwhelmed by motherhood, but in the end she left college her senior year.  There were many times she used her life and our struggles as a cautionary tale.  She wanted more for me and believed with all her heart that I was a smart and capable.

I loved theatre, but I was told that would be a great hobby, it was too unstable for a profession.  I should find an interest that would support me and should continue my education until I had reached the highest degree in the field.  Her goal for me was to always be self sufficient. She believed education was the way to make that happen. Graduate School and Professional School were goals I had before I even really understood what they were.

My pursuit of the right path for me wasn’t exactly a straight line, but I am sure that is true for many.  I did end up with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and considered continuing on for a Doctorate. I still think about it sometimes.  For a while my mother would ask when was I going back to school, because a Master’s degree was not the highest level.

Something happened in me when I received my infertility diagnosis.  Something everyone else seemed to be able to do so easily, I could not. It really changed my perspective on a lot of things.  I wasn’t sure about me being a mom, but I believed my husband would make a great father. It was heartbreaking.  When we finally conceived my decisions about parenting and motherhood had changed to some extent and took on a whole new meaning I didn’t even understand. Fast forward many years and now I’m a stay-at-home HOMESCHOOLING mom.  How on earth did THAT happen?

My husband and I never planned on living on one income.  We had always been a two income pursuing your passions kind of couple.  I wonder how much stress am I causing him?  He’s finally in a job he loves after many stressful years in a job he hated, but it’s come with many sacrifices.

Our entire family of five is completely dependent on him and it seems like something is always going wrong.  This is so far from our original plan and what my mother taught me.  I know lots of my friends look at me differently.  I don’t hear, “So when are you going back to work?” anymore, but there are jokes at times that don’t really feel like jokes, or reactions or comments. They won’t come out and say they think I’m crazy, but sometimes I feel it. Or maybe that’s just my paranoia.

The sad part is there are so many days I’m also looking at myself wondering too; How much money and time did I waste?  What the world God? Am I making the right decisions?  How do I know I really heard you? Are you sure it was me you were talking to?  You know I could have misinterpreted what you said.  Maybe I am just crazy?  How do you know it’s time to give up the charade?  I often feel like a fish out of water everywhere I turn. Who else feels like this?  What AM I doing???

 

Conviction

A few nights ago, my heart was convicted during evening devotions with my older kids.  The devotion was taken from Exodus 16. The reading was about the Israelites in the wilderness. They were complaining against Moses and Aaron for leading them to the desert to starve.  The Lord heard their complaints and decided to send manna and quail.

As I was talking with my children, I asked if it reminded them of anything or anyone.  My oldest immediately admitted it reminded her of herself and how much she has complained about our move to Georgia.  I had to confess she was not alone.  I felt God speaking to me about my own complaints.  I have often thought of our move to Georgia as my desert place, and in that moment I felt the burden of my groaning.

In verse 8 Moses tells the Israelites, “Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.” OUCH!  I’ve spent the last couple of years complaining against my husband for bringing us here and the losses I felt we’ve endured.  God is really the one who brought us here, so my complaints have actually been against him. Wow! Did that make me pause.

Just like he provided for the Israelites needs, he has done the same for us.  He has provided and continues to provide new friends.  He has allowed us to continue homeschooling, and provided medications and special foods for my children.  Many things we never needed before he has provided and more.  We have not lacked in one need, yet I have complained incessantly about our new life here.  I have complained about HIS path and HIS plan for our lives instead of being content and thankful for his grace.  Worst of all, I have led my children down the path of discontentment instead of demonstrating gratefulness.

Even as God provided for the Israelites again and again, they failed to follow his instructions. Boy, that sounds familiar! He told them only to gather enough for their daily needs.  Some gathered more and found the next day that it had spoiled.  Seeing this the Lord responded, “How  long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions?” (Exodus 16:28)

How long will I refuse to change my attitude?  How long will I refuse to submit myself to the Lord’s instructions and my husband’s leadership?  How long will I refuse to forgive?  How long will I refuse to respect?  How long will I refuse to trust?

God has made it clear many times that I must change.  “The Israelites ate manna…until they came to a habitable land;…until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.”(Exodus 16:35)  They struggled a long time.  Lord, I’m tired of fighting your way.  I want to be at the border of my Canaan.  I know you have a Promised Land for me, if I will follow you and your commands.

Thank you for these words.  Here I am again asking for forgiveness.  Your ways are not my ways.  Your ways are so much better.  You have shown me that so many times.  Help me to release all the fears that have kept me from following your instructions.  I’m convicted. Now, I need to do something about it.

Reminders

I have been struggling with my emerging preschooler during school time lately.  She is no longer content to sit by with busy work while I work with her older siblings.  She does a lot more lately to try and grab my attention if it isn’t given quickly. She wants her own dedicated time and she deserves it. I’ve been trying to rearrange our schedule so I can sit with her first, but this morning I was not moving fast enough for her and it led to a great deal of frustration for both of us.

Part of my frustration is my mommy guilt because I feel like I don’t do enough with her most days. I struggle not to compare what I do with her with what I was able to do with the other two when they were her age.  We played this.  We read this many books.  We spent this amount of time outside.  They had this class or that activity.  And then the clincher, they knew how to do…

But she is such a different beast.  She is much more temperamental and easily distracted. So this morning when she wanted to do her “schoolwork” I wanted to give her my full attention.  I needed two minutes, tops, to get the other two started on their independent work and she interrupted the entire time.  When I turned my attention to her and the work she chose, her first response was, “I don’t want to do that now.” Steam from my ears and deep breaths. I tried to focus her attention on her letter sounds and could feel the upset rising within me and her at all that I had not taught her yet.

I wish I could say I didn’t allow it to bother me or that I didn’t beat myself up, but that would be a lie.  While I didn’t go overboard, I did have a sense that I was failing to teach her the things she should know. The worst part was I was wondering how would I ever figure out how to help her.

Later this afternoon I called my mother in New Orleans after seeing the weather reports of Tornado watches and severe storms.  My littlest listened to her siblings ask me about the reports and about their grandmother, and when they left the room she asked a few more questions of her own. She then did something that took me completely by surprise.  As she walked by my side, she grabbed my hand and said let’s pray for Grammy and the tornados.  She recited the sweetest prayer to God asking him to protect her grandmother from the tornados and to keep her safe and all the people there.

At that moment I couldn’t help but think, “Thank you God for the reminder of what is really important.”  Of all the things I can want my children to know and learn, God is at the top of the list.  That sweet smart girl knew to go to God to ask for protection and comfort in the time of a storm. If that’s not a reminder I don’t know what is!

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33