Friday, August 29, 2008


Hand Delivered Bouquets
by Max Lucado

Through Christ, God has accepted you. Think about what this means. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you.

Rejections are like speed bumps on the road. They come with the journey. You're going to get cut, dished, dropped, and kicked around. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you. How? By letting his acceptance compensate for their rejection.

Think of it this way. Suppose you dwell in a high-rise apartment. On the window sill of your room is a solitary daisy. This morning you picked the daisy and pinned it on your lapel. Since you have only one plant, this is a big event and a special daisy.

But as soon as you're out the door, people start picking petals off your daisy. Someone snags your subway seat. Petal picked. You're blamed for the bad report of a coworker. Three petals. The promotion is given to someone with less experience but USC water polo looks. More petals. By the end of the day, you're down to one. Woe be to the soul who dares to draw near it. You're only one petal-snatching away from a blowup.

What if the scenario was altered slightly? Let's add one character. The kind man in the apartment next door runs a flower shop on the corner. Every night on the way home he stops at your place with a fresh, undeserved, yet irresistible bouquet. These are not leftover flowers. They are top-of-the-line arrangements. You don't know why he thinks so highly of you, but you aren't complaining. Because of him, your apartment has a sweet fragrance, and your step has a happy bounce. Let someone mess with your flower, and you've got a basketful to replace it!

The difference is huge. And the interpretation is obvious.

God will load your world with flowers. He hand-delivers a bouquet to your door every day. Open it! Take them! Then, when rejections come, you won't be left short-petaled.

God can help you get rid of your anger. He made galaxies no one has ever seen and dug canyons we have yet to find. "The LORD ... heals all your diseases" (Ps. 103:2--3 NIV). Do you think among those diseases might be the affliction of anger?

Do you think God could heal your angry heart?

Do you want him to? This is not a trick question. He asks the same question of you that he asked of the invalid: "Do you want to be well?" (John 5:6). Not everyone does. You may be addicted to anger. You may be a rage junkie. Anger may be part of your identity. But if you want him to, he can change your identity. Do you want him to do so?

Do you have a better option? Like moving to a rejection-free zone? If so, enjoy your life on your desert island.

Take the flowers. Receive from him so you can love or at least put up with others.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I daresay none of us (myself especially) spend enough time in prayer. Throughout the course of the day I will send up short little "breath" prayers. To find an answer for a problem, for strength to face a particular challenge, or any other trial I happen to be facing at the moment. While these type of prayers are valid and get us through our day, they should never replace time spent "in prayer", time spent with God alone.

Most of my waking hours at my "real job" sitting at the desk...on the telephone, in meetings or on the computer. Generally none of these activities makes one think of prayer...but things have a way of changing! The computer has become a place of prayer! Take some time to explore the following websites and see if they can add another dimension to your prayer life.

You may be surprised where you can find God in our world of technology!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Have you ever wondered why when we come before God in worship, we sing rather than merely think or talk with one another? Singing is a language that God has given us to express our deepest longings, greatest joys and most profound trust in the One who created us and loves us unconditionally.

Singing can lift our hearts to adore God, awaken us to confess the disorder in our lives and inspire us to good work that speaks God's transforming love into the hurting world. The very act of singing teaches us who we are and the words remind us whose we are. The variety of voices--high pitched or low pitched, on-key or off-key, some soaring to the rafters and other barely above a whisper--reminds us of the wonderful diversity of the Church.

Music is a gift from God. When, in our singing, we embrace this gift of love to all and offer it to one another in the Spirit it was given, then singing can unite us in worship and help us to grow as the children of God.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I read an article recently about Michael Phelps and his accomplishments at the Olympics.
The author made the point that he had tremendous focus and mentioned another former Olympian that I admired as a child. I knew nothing of her struggles growing up,
I only knew that when I watched her run she seemed as if she could fly. Being
extraordinarily slow myself, she was thrilling to watch. Her story is also an inspiration:

Picture a small girl hobbling across the yard with leg braces attached to her crooked leg, her left foot twisted inward. Neighborhood kids laughed and pointed.

This girl was Wilma Rudolph. Wilma was born prematurely, weighing only 4½ pounds at birth. She was sick most of her childhood, suffering from double pneumonia, scarlet fever, and polio. After losing the use of her left leg at six, she was fitted with metal leg braces.

But Wilma wasn't one to let her disability hold her back.

Wilma was one of 22 children from her father's two marriages. She got her brothers and sisters to serve as lookouts while she removed her braces, forcing herself to learn to walk without them.

Wilma's disability affected her family. Her brothers and sisters took turns massaging her crippled leg every day. For years Wilma underwent weekly therapy, requiring her mother to drive 90 miles round trip to a Nashville hospital. She was determined not to allow her disability to get in the way of her vision.

By the time Wilma reached her 11th birthday, 5 years of work - she had shed those braces and was playing basketball with her brothers in the yard.

A few years later, Wilma made the high school basketball team, and before long- Wilma became an all-state player, setting a Tennessee state record of 49 points in one game.

When basketball season ended, she decided to try out for the track team. That decision turned out to be one of the most significant of Wilma's life. It started when Wilma beat her girlfriend in a race. Then she beat every girl in her high school. Soon, she beat every girl in the state of Tennessee.

Wilma was only 14 years old, but she'd come a long way since her leg braces.

Two years later she was invited to try out for the Olympics. At 16, Wilma qualified and ran in the 1956 games in Melbourne, Australia. She won a bronze medal - her team placed third in the 400-meter relay.

The victory was bittersweet. Yes, she'd made the Olympics and won a medal, but in her own eyes Wilma had only won the bronze. She wanted the gold. The prize wasn't the Olympics - the prize was the gold medal - so she decided to try again in four years.

Wilma knew that if she wanted to win the gold, she'd have to dedicate an enormous amount of time, commitment, and discipline. Wilma started daily training runs at 6 a.m., 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. She'd often sneak down the dormitory fire escape from 8 to 10 p.m. to get in some running on the track before bed. For more than three years - a total of more than 1,200 days - Wilma maintained this punishing schedule.

Finally 1960 Olympics in Rome arrived, and Wilma became the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. She won the 100-meter and 200-meter races and anchored the U.S. team to victory in the 4x100 - meter relay, breaking records along the way.

We all have disabilities...not braces on our legs but perhaps on our hearts and in our lives. They hold us back from all the experiences that we should have in this life. Whether they be habits, addictions, struggling home life, fear of failure, disappointments, pride, peer pressure, they hold us back from being everything that God calls us to be. For Wilma her focus was not on the bronze medal she had already won, it was on the gold, bronze wasn't good enough.

In order to be successful, we must take our eyes off ourselves and our problems and focus not on a gold medal but on Jesus Christ. When we focus on Christ and put His honor in first place, everything else falls into place. Set your eyes on a relationship that is pure gold...

Friday, August 22, 2008


It's amazing but it seems "sleep" gets a bad name. Not sleep by itself but those who feel the need to get more sleep than the average. Why is that? Does it somehow make them weaker? If you sleep in on a day you don't have to work, does that mean you're lazy? I don't think so! Matter of fact, my husbands family has taking an afternoon nap down to an art form!

There are several reasons for getting a good nights sleep (7 - 8 hours)...

Sleep gives you a chance to clear your head which helps in making important decisions. You'll most likely wake up energized!

Sleep gives you a chance to cool off... in today's world with all the hectic schedules, the term "sleep on it" gets a whole new meaning.

Sleep encourages balance in your life. Try as you may, a lack of sleep will eventually catch up with you. Focus on balance in your schedule with adequate time for tasks, relationships and rest.

I'm sure there's lots of other good reasons to get a good nights sleep but one of the best deserve it! Sleep Well!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our struggle...

Most of us live with an internal struggle every day. Although we worship a God so powerful that He spoke the world into existence and so loving that He sent His Son to die for our redemption, we struggle. There are feelings of inadequacy, doubt, shame and frustration as we try to be "good enough".

The Bible repeatedly tells us of His love and forgiveness but we cannot help but try to earn it. The world we live in teaches reward/punishment, success/failure every day. We know that WE are not capable of loving and forgiving all who hurt us and if we cannot, how can God? Such doubt denies the divinity of God. We seem unable to accept that He is so much more than we could ever know or understand. Humans are incapable of comprehending all aspects of our physical world. How arrogant of us to imagine we could wrap our minds around it's Creator.

We are fortunate that He is not like us. Daily, hourly, minute by minute He nurtures us, growing us in His own image. Despite our shortcomings, He never tires of the work or gives up on us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Baby Steps

Although we make changes throughout our lives and throughout the year, the start of a new school year and New Years day seem to be two of the biggest "change" times of the year.

When we decide that it's time for changes in our lives, it is wise to ease into them by starting small. Small changes allow us to grow into a new habit and make it a permanent part of our lives. Sudden, big changes may overwhelm and invite frustration and failure. It's important not to "bite off more than you can chew" at one time.

By embarking on the path slowly, we have the chance to look around and consider other options as we learn and grow. Taking baby steps forward gives us time to adjust and find secure footing on our path. They make it less likely that we will revert to our old ways.

Life doesn't always give us the opportunity to anticipate or prepare for big changes. But by breaking it down into smaller pieces and by choosing to work on one thing at a time we can focus our attention on something manageable and eventually look up to see that we've accomplished quite a bit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We all know someone who has elevated complaining to an art form. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is exhausting. These people have the ability to find a problem just about anywhere! At it's best, complaining is simply the ability to see what's not working, in one's own life or the world and it can be useful if it's used to find a solution to a problem. However, many of us don't get that far.

Complaining can be a person's way of acknowledging that they are not happy with how things are and can be a catalyst for change. When we complain or criticize, we are tearing down something undesirable to make way for something new. But, if all we do is tear down and never create something new, we are merely a destructive force in our own lives or in the lives of the people we love. Some tend to focus only on what they see wrong in the lives of others and use it as a way to get the spotlight off their own faults.

When you find yourself complaining, don't use it as a way to get down on yourself. Look at the issues at hand and recognize what you'd like to change about yourself. Make it a creative process and change the world around you in a positive way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How do they see us?

The Apostle Paul worked most of his life trying to tear down the walls that divide us...racial, social, gender. He worked to bring all people, whether Jew or Gentile, to Jesus. He taught that no one is superior or inferior at the foot of the cross.

Our human condition works to divide us. The society created by man teaches us to look out only for number one!

Imagine how we must look to the outside world when we fight amongst ourselves over the most trivial issues and neglect those in our care. Can you understand why those who do not follow Christ see no reason to accept Him in light of our selfishness? What have we done for our brother to show Christ's love? Do we feel joy at being called the sons and daughters of God? Do we freely share our inheritance with those who don't know or don't understand?

God calls us to empty ourselves and give freely, with open heart and open hands, all that He has given us. Can you share?

Friday, August 15, 2008


Imagine how you'd feel if thousands of people knew your name and followed your every move. Fame can be like a drug, it's addictive if we start believing we are worth all this admiration. Fame is also hard to let go many "has beens" have you seen on reality TV? They just cannot seem to get enough.

Now think of John the Baptist. He was one of the most famous men in the region with many disciples. He was, until Jesus came to him (John 1:29). Not only did he know that Jesus' fame would eclipse his, he accepted and welcomed it. In John 3:30 we see him begin to release his fame "This is how my own happiness is made complete. He must increase and I must decrease." No hint of anger or jealousy. No "what about me". He had fulfilled his purpose and prepared the way for the Savior, the Lamb of God. That was enough for him.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Journey

The word "journey" always makes me think of a physical trip. As in going on vacation. You drive or fly from point A to point B, spend some time visiting or being a tourist and then come home. Within a few days of your return, life is back to normal. The trip doesn't change anything about your life except now you have a few additional memories. Some may be of once in a lifetime events but they are memories none the less and generally do not affect our day to day life.

On a spiritual journey toward real faith, life rarely goes back to the "way it was". Each step we take, whether forward or back, changes the way think, the way we act, the way we live. Unlike a weekend get away or a 2 week vacation, this journey often takes time. We are not alone, we meet fellow believers along the way but we are not walking side by side. Everyone is at a different place in the journey. Spiritual growth does not all happen overnight. While there are most certainly some people who have dramatic spiritual experiences, most of us come to believe in much quieter and less spectacular ways. Sometimes we cannot even say when it was that we came to believe in God. We just know deep down that we do.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Music of Life

A posting called "Noon:Chances to Choose" at

One weekend last month, my wife and I flew down to Maryland, rented a car, drove to a community college and spent an hour in a darkened recital hall while my mother-in-law did something brilliant and brave. She played the piano.

After decades of raising children, driving carpools, attending soccer games, and making endless meals in a busy kitchen, she looked around at her empty nest, and her cheerfully retired husband, and decided: “I want to do something I’ve always wanted to do. I want to learn how to play the piano.” That was two years ago. She was sixty-five years old.

Last month, she gave her first recital. She was the oldest on the concert stage that afternoon; most of her fellow musicians were a half a century or so younger than she was. But that didn’t seem to matter. All that mattered was her music, and her determination.

When her time came to play, she adjusted the piano bench, unfolded her sheet music, and sat down, fingers poised over the keys. She took a breath. And she began to play. It was a comforting and familiar tune: Brahms’ Lullaby. The performance was brief. At one point, she hit a wrong note and stopped. I thought maybe she was embarrassed. But no: she clenched her little fists, and scolded herself, then unfolded her fingers and continued. She attacked the keyboard with renewed purpose, a kind of delicate vengeance. The rest of the piece was perfect. She stood and bowed. We clapped. My mother-in-law beamed. She had done it.

I never studied music when I was growing up. I know a lot of people who did, and hated it. Some hated the lessons. Others hated the practice. A few faced the concert stage with white-hot terror. The fear of failure was tremendous and, for some, overwhelming. I know my mother-in-law was anxious about her first recital— but I also know that she gave all of us that day a valuable and enduring gift.

For two minutes, with eighty-eight keys and ten fingers, she showed us how life is meant to be lived. We follow the score. We practice. We learn. We make mistakes. We struggle to get it right, and continue on, despite whatever blunders we make, or whatever wrong notes we strike. We face whatever fears we have—failure, embarrassment, awkwardness—and play on. And so it goes, note by note, in search of melody, in search of rhythm, in search of harmony. Sometimes it is beautiful. Sometimes it isn’t. But we play on. And that becomes our song.

We make music. That’s how we live, and how we love. It’s also how we learn and grow.
When my mother-in-law decided to take up the piano, she wanted to learn how to play an instrument, to master the mysterious art of making a joyful noise. She did it that Sunday, in spades. She also offered to anyone listening something truly remarkable, as her fingers played a prayer and her hands preached a sermon on a Steinway


I was recently reading an article called "The Seven Characteristics of Saints". As I read these words I automatically thought (and the article confirmed),of people who had been canonized by the Catholic Church. Those who are held forth by the Catholic Church, prayed to and celebrated. But then it occurred to me (wonder where that came from?), the Bible refers to, breathing Christians as saints! If you Google any one of the Bible search engines on the Internet and type in the word "saints" you'll see what I mean (Psalm 31:23, Psalm 85:8, Romans 1:7, Ephesians 1:1 to name a few).

I went back and read the characteristics again with that mind set...if I am a saint of God, these are things I should do...see what you think.
1. Saints live from the center: They have integrity about them because every decision or action comes from their having said yes to God.
2. Saints would rather be faithful than safe: When questioned how she could keep comforting the dying when she rarely ever saved a life, Mother Teresa said, "God did not call me to be successful. God called me to be faithful."
3. Saints don't give up easily: "She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day" (Luke 2:37)
4. Saints are joyful even in tough times: Think of Paul urging the Philippians to rejoice with him while he was locked in prison!
5. Saints are visionaries: They rarely see things as they are but see them as they could be.
6. Saints are daring: They attempt to act out their dreams.
7. Saints are prayerful: Part of each day is spent in conversation with God.

Do you live the life of a saint? I don't mean this to be another set of "rules" to live by...just some guidelines to help keep you on the path. The "saints" of this world are evidence that one person can make a can be you! (Characteristics from an article by Kathleen Stephens)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where the action is...

When you consider Jesus' everyday life, what thoughts come to mind? His traveling? His preaching? Healing? These events are all immensley important but what about the 30 years He spent on the earth before He began His ministry?

The Bible tells us very little about this time. We know that He lived in Nazareth, with His parents and "under their authority" (Luke 2:51). His life was spent in a small town leading a fairly ordinary life. He was far away from the great people of the day, away from the big events and large cities.

In preparation for His ministry to come, Jesus spent time in study, meditation, prayer and working with His father Joseph. A very simple, ordinary, unspectacular life. If you find yourself fretting because you're not in the middle of "what's happening" or doing what the world considers "great things", remember Jesus' time in the country where He grew in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and with the people (Luke 2:52).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Watch what you say...

The 3rd chapter of James teaches about our inability to "tame our tongue". We all face times when we cannot or choose not to control our speech. Verses 9 -11 say "With it we bless the Lord and Father (as we are called to do) and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God (our brothers and sisters and all mankind). From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This ought not be so. Does a spring bring forth both fresh and brackish water?"

Think of that analogy. Close your eyes and imagine a stream of clear, cool water. Now think of a stagnant, smelly pool. In nature these two do not generally co-exist, much less come from the same source.

How is it that we can allow our tongue so much control over our body? It does not have the ability to speak on it's is controlled by the brain. Our tongues merely reflect the evil intent in our hearts. As long as we are quiet we can give the impression of knowledge or piety or even good intentions but one word can shatter the illusion, destroy a friendship or break a heart. These results are all the more reason to "guard our tongue" and weigh our words. While words can bless and lift up they can also tear down and destroy. There is much power in this small body part. Guard it well.

Witness II

We, as followers of Jesus, are sent into the world to be visible signs of God's unconditional love. As such, we are not only judged by what we say but also by how we live. When others can say of us "See how they love one another?" they see evidence of the Kingdom of God and are drawn to it.

If we want to witness to the world as Jesus did, our only concern is to be as alive with the love of God as we possible can. In a world torn apart by anger and hatred, we are privileged to be living examples of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all hurts.

Let's let the world see our love...

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Know-it-All

Most of us know people who can rightfully be called a "Know-it-All". This person seems to know everything about anything and tends to dominate the conversation. They don't like being questioned and NEVER admit when they are wrong.

Being around this type of person can be tiring because nothing is shared between the two of you. In conversation, you will become the audience so that they can be the center of attention. Respect and attention are two things this type of person wants desperately and this is the only way they know to get them. In their minds, if we stand back and allow them to monopolize the conversation, it's obviously because they know so much more than the rest of us. It couldn't possibly be because no one can get a word in edgewise!

If you look underneath their mask of confidence you may well see fear. They tend to be afraid of listening to another. They mistakenly believe that if they're not speaking, people will think they are not smart and as long as they are in control, you cannot ask questions they can't answer. Even though it is ridiculous to believe that any one person could know everything there is to know in the world, they truly feel they must know the most or they don't measure up.

Although most of us tend to try to avoid the "Know-it-All" recognizing their fear may compel you to compassion and friendship. Recognizing their need and offering your friendship could well open their heart and give you the chance to contribute. Over time, with much patience and work, your friendship can become a two way street.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Jealousy is one of the toughest feelings we come up against in our lives. There is not much worse than the aching sense that somehow life has been unfair to us, while it has rewarded someone else. It's even worse if we're in contact with the other person on a daily basis. It may be a friend, sibling, a spouse, child or even someone famous. Whatever the case, we can begin the process of healing by understanding that jealousy is a common human emotion.

We cannot indulge this feeling for long nor should we encourage it by gossiping or feeling sorry for ourselves. To do so only increases the power it has over us. Even though it is not easy to get past being jealous of someone or something, you can! Start by recognizing that jealousy may offer us information about something we desire and unless it is a behavior we should avoid, this may be the first step toward obtaining our desire. Perhaps the most important step you can take is to realize that you have a life that is utterly unique to you. Your life is full of it's own meaning and beauty and could never be found in another. Your life is a sacred gift.

While no one is immune and we all become jealous to one degree or other the good news is we can all overcome and learn.


To speak about Jesus and His work of salvation shouldn't be a burden. When we go to people feeling that unless they accept our way of knowing Jesus they are lost and we are failures, it's hard to be a true witness.

When people come to Christ with our help, it is a cause for gratitude and celebration. But there can also be joy when people turn away. If you open your heart and the Word only to find it rejected, God sees and understands. Succeed or fail, God loves us and our efforts. Presenting the Word is our task, God will take care of the rest.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Throughout His public ministry, Jesus demonstrated the importance of prayer. It was central to His relationship with God and staying focused on God's will. Jesus was a pray-er. He prayed spontaneously and informally, matching His prayer to the moment. By word and deed, He encouraged others to pray and offered specific advice about how...The Lord's Prayer is a prime example. Four patterns emerge from the passages related to Jesus and His prayer life. He prayed alone and in the presence of others, He prayed persistently and simply. When the need arose, Jesus never hesitated to lift His hands to Heaven and ask God's wisdom and matter the situation and regardless of who was watching.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I've always enjoyed gardening. While I tend to spend more time in the vegetables than on flowers, just playing in the dirt is a joy. It may have something to do with the fact that no matter what I do (or don't do) to the soil, it never talks back!

Obviously my endeavors don't always yield the same results. If I have a bad crop, it may be beyond my control (such as the weather) but most of the time it's directly related to my efforts. There may be pests (particularly June Bugs and Rabbits), lack of fertilizer, perhaps I planted too early or too late...each of these present a problem but can be overcome if I am diligent. If the weather cooperates and I spend a sufficient amount of time caring for the plants, the harvest will be plentiful and delicious!

It recently dawned on me that my spiritual life is much like my garden. God is always willing and available but it depends on my efforts. If I endeavor to spend time in prayer and study, the results are obvious in my work and in my life. If not, I'm as empty and dry as a desert.
Next time you find yourself feeling empty, stop and think about the past few weeks have you spent time weeding and watering or are you just hoping things will grow?

Monday, August 4, 2008


Being United Methodists, on the first Sunday of each month we receive Communion during morning worship. As an act of service, after morning worship the Youth of our congregation take elements from the Altar and share this Communion with our shut in members (those who are unable to attend due to age or illness). This few hours spent once a month has a profound effect on everyone involved.

1. We go as a group and eat lunch together prior to visiting...breaking bread together a
second time! It is a time of fellowship and fun, just being ourselves but getting to know
each other on a personal level.
2. In the act of service, the Youth take turns reading a beautiful liturgy, serving the elements
and praying for the individuals being served. Teenagers are ministering to adults with
reverence and love and the adults accept the blessing with joy.
3. Over the course of time relationships are built not only within the Youth group but also
with those we visit. The young people are exposed to the faith of the elder members one
on one and growth occurs.
4. Of course, from time to time we loose one of our shut ins and feel the pain of the loss.
But loss is a part of life and what better way to learn to understand and accept it than
through experience surrounded by people who love you?

I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to spend time with all involved. It is a personal blessing to participate in Communion with young and old alike. It never fails to lift my spirits to see the young eager to visit and serve, to take time out of their weekend to do God's work. To also witness the joy, love and appreciation of the shut in members allows me to see the image of acceptance not commonly displayed in today's world. Thank you, Lord!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Be Yourself

Most of us are familiar with the idea of "being ourselves", being real. People who present their true selves to the world don't hide behind a mask to keep safe from how they might be perceived. They don't present a false self in order to be more perfect, more powerful or more independent. They show themselves as the truly are, the good parts and the parts that most of us would rather hide, sharing themselves fully with those of us who are lucky enough to know them.

This is not an easy thing to do as we live in a society that often shows us images of physical and material perfection. As a result, we all want to look younger, thinner, wealthier or more successful. We are rewarded externally when we succeed at this masquerade, but internally we suffer. When we feel that who we truly are is not enough and that we need to be bigger, better or more exciting, we send a message to ourselves that we are not good enough. Those who present their true selves to the world acknowledge their imperfections. After all, they are what makes us who we are as an individual.

People like this inspire us to let go of our own defenses and relax in the truth of who we really are...God's children. In their presence, we can feel safe enough to take off our own masks and experience the freedom of not hiding behind a barrier. We must work hard to go through life without a mask so that we may share the beauty of our real selves with others. Despite what the world would say, there is beauty in us all. Be willing to share yourself with others and then do not be surprised when others share with you.