Brilliant Disguise

I was with a group of ladies last week. We ate good food, shared stories, then sat down to do what we were there for. Learn together and connect. We’re doing a book study. But what always happens is way more than a book study. Relationships are formed, hearts are connected, and lives are shared.

In the beginning, we don’t share as freely. Our talk is more about the weather or our jobs. As we get to know one another we start telling stories of our families and friends. Eventually we are comfortable enough to share more. While we’re talking about the book one of us will share a related personal experience. Another one shares, then another.  At the end of the 8 to 12 week study we know each other on a deeper level.

Hopefully, we’ve let our guards down, taken off the mask, and quit pretending. We’ve connected.  That happens when we uncover the deep things of our hearts.

Still, we all have a mask……….a brilliant disguise that we’ve created for others to see. Sometimes it’s needed and serves us well.

When I interviewed for my current job, I pretended to be confident as I discussed the position and answered their questions. What the interviewers didn’t know:  I was intimidated and nervous. Nevertheless, I was offered the job. I believe my act of self-assurance helped me get it.

But we wear our disguises too often. We think we need them. We believe if others knew our past, our thoughts and quirks, odd habits and fixations, our tendencies and dark addictions that they would stop liking us, ignore us, or worse…..avoid us. However, genuine relationships require we reveal our true identity.

An intimate marriage can’t happen with a brilliant disguise; close friendships either. The facade affects our parenting and frustrates our children. Our kids, especially teenagers, want the real deal.

The disguise makes us unapproachable and guarded. We become judgmental because we forget who we are. The disguises, no matter how brilliant, may protect us from harm some of the time, but will hinder love all of the time.

But when I discard the disguise wonderful things happens. People connect with the authenticity and see something familiar. Some of our fears are lifted. I recognize that I am not the only one with that past or those thoughts. My strange ways aren’t so unusual and my weaknesses are quite common. We all feel less lonely which makes us more willing to take the mask off again.

Wear your mask for your next presentation at work. Take it off when your teenager asks if you’ve ever made a bad decision, when your friend calls to tell you some bad news, or you notice a co-worker with tears in her eyes. And try not to put it back on.

We’re more brilliant when we’re unmasked anyway.



My 10 year old daughter is now 13 and forgives as easily as she did then. It’s not lost homework anymore – I don’t have to check it as much as I used to (see original post). Now it’s a thoughtless comment or an impatient stare.

I’ve worked through some difficult trials and made the hard choice to forgive. I am choosing to forgive. It’s not only a choice: it’s a journey, too. Inconsiderate actions, angry words, betrayal, abuse……whatever the offense…….may we learn to forgive as easily as my daughter. May we all.

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

Matthew 18:21-22 (MSG)

My 10-year-old daughter accused me of throwing her homework away, and that’s what she told her teacher, too.  I denied it.  “Why would I throw your homework away?” I asked. 

 She sighed, “I asked you to check it and you must have put it in the pile of papers you were looking through.”  I was looking through the accumulation of graded papers in her STAR notebook……….but I don’t remember her asking me to check her homework. 

 “You didn’t ask me to check your homework?”  I said. 

“Yes, I did, Mom.  But my teacher said that it was okay if I couldn’t find it”.

I wondered what her teacher thought of me now……another distracted mom who can’t keep up with her child’s homework. 

 After my daughter went to bed I checked in the garbage can.  I laughed to myself when I saw the math homework she had asked me to check. …

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The discussion in the house last night was intense.  At times it was angry shouting.  My 19 year old daughter and her daddy don’t see eye to eye.  Her daddy can’t believe she even asked the question and she can’t believe we said no.  

That’s how far apart we are on this. More and more she isn’t seeing what we see.  Disagreements, tension and rolling eyes are becoming the norm. She is finding her way in this world, working and paying for college.  She feels like she should be able to make her own decisions even when we see it as foolish or dangerous.  

She desperately wants to be out on her own but isn’t quite able to afford it.  How do we make the most of the time we have left with her in our house?   She feels misunderstood and stuck. We feel frustrated and under appreciated. We’re all at a loss at how to come together on this.

How do we find common ground when the divide is so vast? 

One thing I know:  we have to love one another. We have to do the hard thing and keep at it. We have to choose to let love rule instead of our emotions.  

Love is the bridge.  Love is the way we find common ground. 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.    John 13:34  NLT. 

Daily Prompt: Crossing

More painful th…

A post I read yesterday reminded me of how much time I used to spend thinking about what could have been.  In fact, I was a bit jealous when she talked of her carefree time in Europe.  I always wanted to travel.  But that dream was set aside because of the responsibilities of caring for my family, jobs, bills, and then caring for my parents.

I’ve spent way too much time daydreaming of things I could have done, places I could have seen or people I could have met.  What if I had taken that trip across the country, what if I hadn’t taken a break from my career, where would I be, what would I be doing…….on and on with more what ifs – major ones –  that I won’t mention here. While driving to work one morning, thinking again of what could have been, I realized it was stealing the joy of what is. My “what is” is a beautiful thing. It’s not perfect -it’s messy and painful and glorious all at the same time.  But it’s mine.

And this is what came from all of my wishing and thinking and realizing. Parts of the idea rolled around in my head for weeks until it finally came together and said exactly what I meant for it to say.

Thanks to  for sharing her thoughts that inspired this re-blog of the quote from earlier this year.

More painful than “what could have been” is what could have been if I’d not wasted my time wondering what could have been.

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I have a long list of “must dos”. A longer list of things I need to do. And a short list of things I really want to do. We all have these lists, whether on paper or in our heads.

The long lists take up most of my time. They include the everyday things like be a wife, be a mom to 3 teenagers, and be an accountant at work.  It means at home I do laundry, help with homework, cook dinner, and wash dishes.  At work I figure contracts, reconcile GL accounts and analyze financial statements. That’s already a lot to do.

The other items on the long lists are those that can wait but still need doing.  Like painting behind the toilets because we installed new ones that are shaped differently and now a patch of the old paint shows. We need to paint the garage and organize our closets. We need to fix the backdoor.  I need to have my oil changed and the tires rotated.

But what about that short list?

Running a 5K is on my short list. I want to fly somewhere with each of my kids and hike in the Bankhead National Forest at least 10 times this year. My husband and I want to see the Northern Lights. I want to learn sign language and Spanish and do some ballroom dancing. These things don’t need to be done and as one of my favorite authors, Mark Buchanan, put it, the world isn’t changed by my doing them or not.  

But I need to play. You need to play. Because we need a break from the ever growing “to do” list.  

Because of the chores and responsibilities and deadlines the short list tends to get shoved under the others. Disregarded as less important. Forgotten about.  

If we’re not careful, adulthood can turn into one big obligation and we forget we need to have fun. We forget how to play. 

If you’ve neglected play for so long and don’t know what to do, start small. Play Go Fish with your kid. Dance in the living room. Fly a kite or jump on the trampoline. Take that cooking class, join a book club, or visit Six Flags again just to ride the roller coaster.

I’m not going to tell you how you’ll benefit from playing.  Or if you will at all.

I want you to find out for yourself.  And then let me know.

How did you play and did something good come from it?

Excuse me while I do some cartwheels in the front yard with my daughter and the dog.

In response to the Daily Post’s daily prompt Nothin’ But A Good Time.


Anne Lamott wrote in Bird by Bird  “To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal but you have to care. You do not have to have a complicated moral philosophy. But a writer always tries, I think, to be part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass it on”.

I’ve always written…….in a journal, notes to friends, poems, and prayers. I want others to read what I write, but not because I think I have some remarkable message to share. But, I do know things and my perspective on life will definitely be different from yours. If my experiences teach you something, reveal a truth, make you think about something you’ve never thought about before, or simply make you feel less alone, that is enough.

I write to share what I’ve learned, and struggled with. Or what makes me laugh. What moves me or changes me. But mostly what I struggle with. I share it so you’ll know you’re not the only one. I end up feeling less alone, too.

I’ve done what I set out to do if I’ve caused that middle-aged teacher to feel less guilty about his anger over caring for his widowed father while caring for his own family.

Or maybe the girl that’s on her 5th try into the new year to make good on her resolution to lose weight. Maybe she feels hopeful and decides to press on because of something I put out there. Or maybe instead she decides she likes her curves. Either way, she’s better.

If I’ve given you the courage to ask for a raise, I’ve done what I hope to do.

I write to encourage, inspire, and connect. To give hope, to make you ponder a question you’ve never asked before, to make you laugh or cry. To help unlock a memory stored away. I write to help you see someone in a new way, or help start the journey of forgiving, or put into words what you can’t seem to.

I write to pass it on.

In response to the Daily Post’s Guilty.


He protects me like a strong, walled city, and he loves me. He is my defender and my Savior, my shield and my protection. Psalm 144:2. NCV

I have an odd mixture of sweet and sour childhood memories. Some of the best are summer Saturdays. The entire family worked in the yard or the house all day, then Daddy grilled steaks in the evening. Mom baked potatoes, put together a beautiful salad and toasted the barbecue bread. We’d eat then enjoy a restful evening.

But there were weekends not filled with happy hard work and eating well. Sometimes Daddy was on a drinking binge. Sometimes there were strangers in the house. And the music and laughter were too loud and the air smoky. I didn’t feel safe. It felt chaotic and scary.

My response to the chaos and fear was to build.

So I was a little girl going to The Little Red School House building walls. Around my heart. To make me feel safe.

In high school I gave my heart to a boy who didn’t know what to do with a young insecure heart. So he broke it.

So I built more walls.

I wanted a place where I could laugh and be myself and run and be strong and courageous. A place I wasn’t sad and scared. A place where I didn’t worry. I wanted a sanctuary. But I didn’t know how to get there.

When I was married I didn’t stop building walls. Every hurt, disappointment, or unmet expectation caused more walls and eventually my heart was surrounded. My children were the only ones that could get to the tender part of my heart. My husband saw glimpses of softness but the walls never stayed down long enough for him to believe that was who I really wanted to be.

There was no sanctuary inside the walls. The trials and betrayals and disappointments came and they still hurt. Years and years of building the walls were useless. I didn’t feel safe. The walls made the space too small. There was no hope there. There was no room to be myself and no room for others.

Thankfully God is inside the walls. He knew.

The pain. The fear. My desire to follow Him wholeheartedly. He held the tender part of my heart and never ever let it go.

He is my sanctuary.


He is tearing down the walls. Because I don’t need walls.

For I,’ declares the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”
Zechariah 2:5



I have a welcome mat on my front porch. Most of us do. We like to think we are welcoming people. But are we? Really?

I asked my 12 year old what she thought about when she heard the word “welcome”.

“I think you’re supposed to be happy when you welcome someone,” she said.

I’m guilty of not always being happy when I welcome or receive someone. I’m sometimes guilty of welcoming only those I feel comfortable welcoming. Or those that are most like me. I shy away from inviting those with more into my home. More money, more house, more education. Those that appear to have it more together, or……….more anything.

And those with less……..the same.

I have to be intentional about welcoming all kinds into my home. Into my conversation. Into my world. But I get so comfortable in my space. In my home with my people. In the office with my co-workers. Within my circle of friends.

My comfort is not what God had in mind when he inspired Paul to write to the Romans: Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (15:7)

Welcome. Invite. Receive. Accept.


The poor should invite the rich. And the rich the poor. The strong receive the weak and the weak the strong. Those less mature in the faith should receive those more mature, and vice versa. Those living in freedom bring in those dying in bondage and those in bondage welcome the free.

Jesus welcomed all. He asks us to do the same.

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!
Romans 15:7 (MSG)

More painful th…

More painful than “what could have been” is what could have been if I’d not wasted my time wondering what could have been.