Hey friends or people who randomly stopped by:
Salt and Grace migrated to caragabrielse.com. Same girl, same salt, same grace. Hope to see you there.
Hey friends or people who randomly stopped by:
Salt and Grace migrated to caragabrielse.com. Same girl, same salt, same grace. Hope to see you there.
I met her in the 3rd grade in Green Gables elementary. She was a smartass and I was a good girl who admired smartasses from afar. We became friends in the 6th grade – by then I was a smartass too – and we drove our teachers mad. Together we made up the phrase, “No duh.” Really we did! You might not believe it but I remember the day: We were sitting on a log on the playground and she was saying something and I said, “No,” and she said “Duh,” and we both said, “No Duh,” and suddenly it went viral before going viral was a thing.
We did all the typical elementary school girl things – sleepovers and such. I loved her family and she loved mine. She may have been the only friend my parents liked. In later years she always asked about my parents, and when she found out my dad died, she cried on the phone and said, “He was a good man.”
Over the years we’d lose touch and reconnect and lose touch – there wasn’t Facebook, or email, or cell phones, but we’d run into each other randomly or run into a mutual friend who’d put us in touch again. In our early 20s we started hanging out again and we got jobs at the same place – the grown up kind where we wore panty hose and pumps and used fax machines. We had the most fun then because we were still smartasses, but now we made 5 figures and drank wine out of boxes so we were more sophisticated about it.
We got married and were in each other’s weddings and then a slew of years unfolded when we were not together – both of us busy building lives apart. She lived a lot of life during those years – her mom died of breast cancer and she was her primary care giver. Then she got breast cancer herself and she had quite a rough go of it. She beat it but it left her scarred, emotionally and physically. We reconnected a couple of years ago, but I was living in another state so our contact was primarily through Facebook, until I moved back last year and we started to have real conversations again.
Today was an ordinary day. I woke up, I drank coffee, I went to the gym and the grocery store and made dinner and the whole time, she was dead and I did not know it. I did not know it until I logged onto Facebook and saw a message that she had died. And suddenly I am rethinking everything about our friendship, how I took her for granted, how I was not there for her when she needed me, and then I started thinking about my other friends, how I take them for granted, how I am not always there for them, and how badly I want them all to know what they mean to me and how I do not want to find out that they died from Facebook.
I’m also thinking about my own mortality. Death has a way of doing that I suppose. What kind of person do I want to be with the days I have left? What kind of friend do I want to be to the people in my life? How can I give everyone I hold dear the time, attention, and devotion they deserve?
I know I will not follow through with grandiose grief-driven plans made in the moment: I will write everyone I love a ten-page letter! I will call all of my friends tomorrow and tell them I love them! I will hug my kids every day and have sex with my husband every night! All I can do is get up in the morning, have my coffee, go to the gym and the grocery store, make dinner and remember her and the imprint she made on my life.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
I love being a wife and a mom. Only one of my three children still nestles under my roof – the older two living with new tribes in far and farther away places. It’s quiet with three.
I miss setting the table for five. I miss Saturday soccer games, and juggling homework and practices and piano lessons. I miss last minute science projects and tucking the tinies in at bedtime and hearing, “Mommy, I need to bring three dozen gluten free, dairy free, nut free cupcakes to school tomorrow.” Okay, I don’t really miss that. Nor do I miss the drama of family game night. Pitting already rivaling siblings against each other in the name of fun and bonding? No. I’d rather make cupcakes and assemble the solar system out of Styrofoam balls at midnight.
One of the mom prerogatives I miss the most is the Forced Family Hike, or FFH. The FFH was enacted on Mother’s Day, my birthday, or any day I could leverage their crappy behavior (i.e.; clean the house or hike!) or guilt them into going. Enthusiasm for the FFH was inversely proportional to how long it had been since the last debacle hike. The longer ago the hike, the more excited they were to go on one. Maybe excited is too strong of a word. The more willing they were to go. And by willing I don’t mean there wasn’t whining because there was always, always so much whining. So, so much whining. Did I mention there was whining?
Ten feet into the hike: How much further? Twenty-seconds later, and continuing for the duration of the hike: How long is this going to take? How many miles is it? Can we take a break? How far have we gone? When are we going to be done? Is it all uphill? When can we have a snack?
My responses in dysfunctional syncopation: Just a little farther! Not too long! Just around the corner! Almost halfway! We’re almost done! It’s downhill after this! We will take a break soon! You guys are doing great! Skittle break in five minutes!
Recently we went on a hike, just the three of us, and my darling daughter asked one of those questions and I responded with one of those answers and she replied, “Mom, this is why I have trust issues.”
She realized my pep talk was bull, designed to keep her going just a little bit further. And then a little bit further still. Why didn’t I just tell her the truth?
I knew she could handle the next two or three miles or whatever it was, but I also knew she would think it was too hard and too far. Same with the other kids back in the day. As their mom, I knew what they were capable of, but if I laid it all out for them in the beginning, showed them the elevation gain, and the rocks they’d have to scramble over, the weather ahead, the miles trekked, they would never have gotten out of the car.
It’s the same with God. I want him to lay it all out for me. I want to know what is ahead. I want a detailed relief map, a layout of every inch of the terrain, but he knows how much vision I can handle at once. So he beckons me step by step – Just a little farther, It’s downhill after this, You’re doing great, Have some Skittles…
This life, it’s a Father’s Faith Hike, an FFH, and we walk by faith, not by sight.
**Welcome readers from Bold & Free** And thanks to my good friend Jan for posting my spoken word poem, A Case of (Mis)Taken Identity on her blog. Check it out y’all – she’s a wonderful writer and you’ll be blessed by her words.
Life is such a trip.
Why am I here? What was I created for? What is my calling, my purpose?
These questions interrupt my oblivion. These questions beckon me to seek and explore the path that God has set me on. It’s a path wrought with peril and intrigue and beauty and brokenness. It’s a path which pounds in my chest and rises in my throat.
Trust me, there are days when I’d rather watch The Voice or traipse around Target than to wrestle with Life’s Big Questions. But alas, God wired me to ponder and provoke. So here goes…
God created me, and you, to walk this thing out with Him. But first we have to open the gate, and friend – Jesus is the gate. The Gate is narrow, and not everyone will slip the latch – not because all are not welcome – but because all will not choose to travel the razor’s edge that lies beyond.
Those of us who have walked through The Gate must not think of ourselves as worthy – Hello? We are walking around with 2 x 4’s in our eyes. NO, we must walk each other home, hand in hand, sometimes yanking, sometimes letting go for spell, but always, always, beckoning our fellow sojourners onward.
What about those who are standing outside the gates? Or those that have walked through the wide gate that leads to destruction? Shall we scream and point fingers and roll our eyes and puff our chest? No, we illuminate The Gate by becoming more and more like Jesus. And we are not more Jesus-like because we go to church, or belong to the “right” political party, or adhere to a set of moral codes.
We are more like Jesus when we do what he did, and live like he did.
So, how does one find out what he did and how he lived? Well, a good place to start is by reading the Gospels. Any one will do fine (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) although I am partial to Matthew. If you have never read an entire book of the Bible, it might be helpful to discuss the text with others. These others don’t have to be pastors or scholars or such – any old gal will do – hint, hint. And if you don’t have a Bible, I know someone who will give you one. Ahem.
And what of you who know the Gospel and feel you’re on the narrow road that leads to life? Who feel like you’ve got heaven all sewn up? Sister, brother, I humbly challenge you to read one of the Gospels as well. And while you are reading, write down or highlight all of the things that rub you the wrong way. Note of all of things that Jesus says and did where you are tempted to say, “That doesn’t apply to me,” and then, go do those things.
Note: I say this fully aware of my plank and that my version of Christianity doesn’t always look like what Jesus modeled. Many days I need to recalibrate, set my feet on the True Path, the one that cuts me to the quick, like a razor’s edge.
If you’re thinking to yourself right now, “The Bible? No Thanks,” give the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan a whirl, then ask yourself afterwards how you might experience more of what God wants for you while you are here on Big Blue.
The road that leads to life is quite a trip. But Jesus is an excellent guide. He won’t lead you to comfort or safety but he’ll hold your hand the entire way.
“Enter through the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction,
and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it.“
Or vile. Or disgusting. They do vile and disgusting things, but this is not who they are. The person you are calling trash was born to be amazing, knit together in their mother’s womb by a God who STILL has a plan for their life.
When you see people in pop culture (or the public, or in LIFE) displaying behavior you deem vile and you decide you can not remain silent! Please remember that is someone’s daughter you are calling a skank. Imagine her mom nursing her as a baby in those early days, dreaming of her future. Imagine her dad taking her to ballet lessons and teaching her to ride a bike. Imagine their sweet daughter inexplicably going off the rails during middle school or high school or college or when she became famous or when she was sexually abused or assaulted or her parents divorced or she made a dumb teenage decision to drink or try drugs. Imagine the enemy of her soul reinforcing her shame and society fanning that flame and increasing her fame.
Imagine if (God Forbid!) it was your daughter or son. Imagine if your daughter was a public personality and the Christian culture was calling your daughter a disgusting piece of trash and calling it, “being salt.” It’s not salt. It’s poison. Stop. Please.
I get it. I’ve done it. It’s so easy to comment on someone’s Facebook post or retweet something without thinking. And also, let me cop to the passive-aggressive nature of this post. Perhaps I should instead have been salt to the offending person, but I’ve seen it from so many others – again, including myself, that I felt compelled to write this.
Let me also confess that I have recently called a certain presidential candidate an idiot. Okay, a few of them. I’m going to work on that. I invite you to call me on it if you see or hear me disparaging someone’s character. And to all the presidential candidates’ mothers, I am sorry. I am praying for you. And them.
Perhaps you will join me next time you are tempted to post, tweet or say something about someone’s daughter or son, in getting on your knees first and asking God to guide you in your response. Ask him how he feels about the person, and respond accordingly.
With much grace, and hopefully not too much salt –
Does this make me look fat?
The voice in my head says, “Yes.”
The voice in my head says,
“I am fat, and
I am soft, and
I am ugly.”
So it doesn’t really matter
What you say –
My mind is made up.
My mind is made up about
My floppy arms and my squishy belly,
My dimpled thighs that jiggle and wiggle like
And while we’re on the subject,
What happened to my neck?
What’s with the ruts in my face,
Freckles on my skin
Crawling with veins?
I’m a clay pot arguing with its Maker,
Telling The One who shaped me
He did it wrong!
I’ve lost my way,
Forgotten who I am,
Who I was created to be.
From a Case of Mis(Taken) Identity,
Covering up instead of stepping out,
Letting Fear rob me of my destiny,
Letting the world determine my worth.
The world perpetuates
The myth of better,
The myth of more.
Forcing its false dream upon us,
The talking box screams:
Don’t you want to be an Idol?
Don’t you want to be A Real Housewife?
We’re ensnared by snake oil salesman
Who promise a quick fix to whatever ails.
Surely you won’t die.
You’ll be like God.
We nip and tuck our brokenness,
Photoshop, and chemically peel away our imperfections.
We numb, binge, purge, cut it off
And we call it
Beating our wings against the chrysalis
Until we become, until we fly.
But the world says, ‘Chill butterfly,
Life ain’t meant to be a struggle.
You do You Bro.’
The world is a liar.
We were knit together in our mother’s womb.
The Maker did not drop a stitch, yet
Why did you make us this way?
Why not prettier, blonder, thinner,
Whiter, blacker, richer, smarter?
A little more here,
A little less there,
A little more…
In our derriere?
We’ve lost our way,
Forgotten who we are,
Who we were created to be.
All of us, Suffering
from a Case of Mis(Taken) Identity
The poor and needy search for water
Tongues parched from thirst,
Starving for acceptance.
Fearing the worst,
They crawl over the worn out welcome mat,
Take a seat in the pew,
And see white male privilege in the pulpit.
While the ladies in the church basement
With their felt boards and their felt hats
Are asking each other,
Does this make me look fat?
Church: you’ve lost your way,
Forgotten whose you are:
People of THE Way,
People of THE Power,
Aliens, born not to be comfortable
In this skin because this world is not your home.
But you’ve sold out.
You’ve sold out to The Platform,
You’ve sold out to The Couch,
You’ve sold out
To the World’s definition of beauty,
To the World’s definition of success
To the World’s definition of truth.
It’s time to stop posing,
Time to stop comparing,
Stop rolling our eyes,
And Pointing our fingers,
Managing our image,
Afraid to love, afraid to accept
Building a moat instead of a bridge,
Showing up on Sunday to be fed
Toast and Tea,
Nothing too spicy for me.
Jesus didn’t come to draw a line
On a frosted cake,
He came to put an end to our fake.
He didn’t come to make bad people good,
He came to raise us from the dead,
To silence the voices in our head.
He came to pardon the prisoners,
Heal the heartbroken,
He came to show us the way,
To show us who we were created to be,
Jesus came, and lived, and died to give us our
Let’s behave like we believe that, shall we?
Let’s raise our floppy arms in praise,
Worship like no one is watching,
Let’s swim in the river of grace,
In our bathing suits,
At the beach!
In front of people!
Let’s show off our necks and our scars and our wrinkles
Wear them like badges of honor,
The timeline of our story,
A map to our soul
Let’s stop listening to the talking heads and
Start talking to each other.
Let’s keep our face out of the mirror and
Be about the business that matters.
Show me the way,
Help me be who I was created to be,
Jesus, restore my identity.
In the darkness of your mother’s womb, a war broke out. The first battle was for your very life – would you make it out alive? Clearly, you did. The next battle was for your soul, which requires you to pick a side. Perhaps you have, perhaps you haven’t, perhaps you thought you did but some days you’re not sure, or perhaps you question if you picked the right side. Either way, the war continues and the final battle in which you must fight is the one for your destiny.
Welcome to my war.
It’s easy to feel brave doing quite dangerous things like scaling mountains or taming lions or taking more toddlers than you have hands for to a water park if these things are not your calling. Why? Because no one cares. And by no one, I mean the No One that says, “Who do you think you are?” And, “You can’t do it.” And, “You will drown toddlers today.”
But do something simple, something safe, like string a few words together on a blog, or give a speech, and suddenly you’re on a ship headed towards Normandy. You know what lies ahead. You’ve heard the stories, been on this trip before. You hear gunfire. What is that smell? Your hands begin to shake, the bile is rising…again you ask, what is that smell? Is it death? Suddenly Tom Hanks says, “See you on the beach.”
Those words, they are enough, for today, to get you out of the boat and onto the shore. They are enough for you to do what you were created to do: run up the hill, guns blazing, giving the finger to the No One in your head.