Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WRITE:Doe Bay1

I'm not yet fully home. I'm not sure I will ever be. 

This wandering spirit falls hard and fast for every single land it has ever laid eyes on, even if only for a moment. Sounds fickle, I know. Sounds unrooted and easily discontented of me to allow my gaze to be so quickly caught. Terribly romantic and yet tragically uncommitted.

Not so.

My roots run deep through people, not places, near well-watered streams of relationships producing vines grafted into strong branches all wrapped with tangles of cords not easily broken. These roots are how I know exactly who I am and who I've been created to be. These roots are how I trust my crew and where we are headed. These roots are how I am always connected to those I love no matter where my steps land.

I always feel at home in a new place because this entire planet has been given to us to explore, to marvel before. Every trail, every feather, every mount, every shoreline a dazzling gift indulgently showcasing the glory of a creative God offering a standing invitation for me to stay. To linger. To receive. There is always a piece stirring my soul's memory as if I've never not been there.

Doe Bay was just that way.

On paper, Write:Doe Bay is a writer's workshop, a retreat space for the work of the written word. On skin, though, Doe Bay hangs magic in the air thick like her blinding fog offering space for intersections of opposites and kindred spirits alike. So I could tell you about amazing workshops sessions with best-selling authors whose works are shaping my own processes set in a twinkly lit living room decorated with handmade dreamcatchers, 

gorgeous meals cultivated with grace and love using ridiculously fresh local and sustainable elements, killer island views where every shade of green ever known to man runs toward shore to kiss every shade of blue I've ever seen in the sea which reaches out to a horizon of the exact same hue making it impossible to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins...

...but I won't.

Surely those pieces of the journey settled into my soul convincing me of having always been home, but my roots dug deep into the people. We are each so. beautifully. different. And yet there is something about giving another human being permission to wrap their hands around your experiences and to hold them, even if just for a moment, that reminds us of just how much we all have in common. Showing up for the love of the written word proved to be more than enough.

What I found is that I CRAVE diversity. Literally binging on it all weekend long, I could not get enough of hearing from those whose lives pulse so differently from my own. Naturally, the schedules we keep align us with others who swim similar currents and I feel like I am constantly trying to swim against the current to not forget the taste of the greater ocean. I don't want to be whisked away in mindless motion where every other face looks like me, lives like me, believes like me. 

We didn't talk much about our kids and spouses or jobs and zip codes that weekend. Maybe here and there while rumbling through suitcases for flashlights or on our way along well-worn paths. Mostly, we talked long over refilled mugs and stayed late for second rounds of drinks to tell of art and honesty and our creative natures and the glitter-flecked, tear-stained moments that string together a life of making that would dare to bring us together on a tiny island in the middle of the great Northwest.

And I felt at home.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

off to write:doe bay

Do you ever look forward to something so much and for so long that you begin to wonder if it can possibly, at all, ever, in any way live up to the anticipation you've built up in your mind? Well, I have a feeing this weekend's adventure is going to blow my expectations out of the water. 100%. Here's the story...

Almost a year ago I came across an Instgram post about a writer's retreat/workshop in the San Juan Islands and my heart just leaped out of my chest with connection. Not sure why. The photo was just a logo. I don't know the chicks who've created the amazingness. Just timing I guess? I wanted to go SO BAD! With only 25 spots available this was not going to be the typical writer's conference where hundreds of writers jostle for position competing for the attention of agents, publishers and authors. This retreat was designed for real-deal connections between writers and a small handful of authors. Craft-work. Art-work. The timing for my wandering soul was perfect, but the timing for my pre-Christmas bank account was not. Totally not in the budget. And even if I did have the extra cash for the trip, surely I could rattle off a list of other things the money should be spent on. I felt so foolish but I couldn't help but pray one day in the bathroom. (That's where all the best prayers get prayed since it's the only uninterruptable spot in the house.)

Lord, if you're the one lighting this spark for this adventure you will literally have to drop that much money in our laps with absolutely no other purpose or need attached to it. I mean really. No still small voice. You're gonna have to be loud and clear on this one. 

Registration was about to open online. No magic money had fallen from the sky.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, my sweet husband was in the thick of football season and having fun with his fantasy football league. He so very generously told me that if he won his league he was going to send me to this workshop. No questions asked. No arguing.

Aw, thanks honey. That's sweet of you. 

Registration opened. All the spots filled. I cried.

I'm not sure what I was expecting but I was actually genuinely disappointed in not being able to be a part of such an incredible moment and yet I couldn't help but think maybe someone would cancel. Really though, what are the odds of that happening given the killer location and even more killer lineup of presenters? Slim. To. None. I put myself on the wait list anyway. Never know, right?

Time passed. I was #4 on the waitlist. Whatevs.

And then, come January, my sweet, generous and totally awesome husband actually won his fantasy football league! I'm not even kidding The whole shebang! Exactly enough money for me to go to this workshop... except for the fact the registration was filled.  Minor detail! Again feeling foolish, I suggested we hang on to the money in case a space became available and three other people had to pass. Not that I would hope for someone to have a family emergency or become terribly ill. But you know, if something did happen to cause someone to cancel I wanted to be ready. Never know, right? He agreed fully believing the workshop adventure was the purpose for the winnings.

I love that man.

Not long after I received an email sent out to all the workshop waitlisters telling us to watch our emails for some exciting news. What could it be? Would they be podcasting the author sessions and giving us access? Would there be something else we could vicariously participate through? I could hardly wait to hear! And then, three days later they announced it: an identical workshop would be held at the same killer location with the same killer lineup and the waitlist crew would be given first crack at registration.


I could not WAIT to tell Eric! A fall workshop would be even better so that I could use frequent flier miles for the trip to make it all but free! I was giddy as a little school girl!

And then came registration. The waitlist had 50-something names on it and I had no idea how many people would be trying to register when it opened. So I was ready. I had timers set. Time zones confirmed. I had my credit card number copied so I could paste it with a lightning fast command-V. Not since 1998 when I hit redial a million times trying to win Pearl Jam concert tickets from a San Diego radio station (because Eric had given his AZ tickets away to come see me in SD days after we met) had my fingertips been so ready. Instead of "redial" I'd be hitting "refresh" but the anticipation was pumping. I had my game face on ready to box out in cyberspace. It was on.

I sat at our office desk. The clock flipped. My alarm sounded. Registration opened. And BOOM I was in! As soon as I got a confirmation number I stood up, popped my knees back which sent our office swivel chair sliding across the tile and threw my arms up in victory.

I'M GOING TO DOE BAY!!! (full-on happy dance ensued)

The kids just stared. With furrowed brows they asked why I was so excited about a workshop. And that's when I got to tell them about how, while I was excited about going to the writer's retreat, it wasn't the source of my happy dance. The true exhilaration comes from praying foolish prayers in the bathroom and actually being heard! The desires of my heart being seen and affirmed! A way being made where there was no way! The San Juan Islands will be sweeter, the craft-work more valuable and the soul-shaping more meaningful because of the pure gift of the story in getting there.

And so, later this week, as God has done so many times during this time of financial uncertainty and transition, during a time when we should not have been able to go on amazing adventures like we have this summer, He has poured out generosity. He has once again made a way. Ahead of time. And it's going to be freaking amazing. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

map or machete?

I've been pissed off this past week. The chicken with the 60 year old smoker's squawk has not been helping matters. It's finally been cool enough to close her in the coop when I have felt like breaking her neck so she gets a little time-out while I take a few deep breaths and make another iced latte. Don't worry, no chickens were harmed during the writing of this blog post.  But I have been dropping f-bombs at the Lord this past week and He's been dropping them right back. It happens sometimes. Don't worry, we're cool. Every once in awhile a little wrestling match does a faith good. I can't be nice ALL the time, I'd surely explode. 

When I do break apart all the gross stuff comes flying out of my mouth, all the entitlement, all the selfishness, the idol worship and did I mention entitlement? Yeah that. Residue of my rule-following, card-carrying Jesus-girl days remains. Sludgy remnants of thinking my long-standing service to the King and law-abiding good behavior could earn favor lingers and sometimes I just need a spiritual enema. Flush that crap out. How's that for a visual?  

So God patiently waits while I throw a toddler-sized tantrum about how we really just need a prayer or two answered and how I feel forgotten about and how it would really help us out if He would just throw us a bone and give us a glimpse of what the hell He is up to with our wild lives and then He lays the smackdown by showing me a picture. 

There are two paths. I know, not terribly original, but stay with me. 

The one on the left is perfectly manicured. Lush hedges stretch high and curve overhead to form a perfect tunnel all shady and cool. Perky-petaled flowers are bursting from every stem lining the path with symmetrical colors while pavers direct a traveler's steps keeping every one on the neatly raked road and off of the rich, aerated soil. There is even a bench on the right, tucked quaintly into the hedge offering rest to the weary. As I look through the tunnel where the path continues there is a glowing golden light and I think I can hear angels singing between bird chirps. This path is looking like a tall drink of a water. At the entrance to the path lies a crisply folded map.

Then there is the path on the right.  Way scarier. Not inviting AT ALL. Thick, twisted branches and tangled vines obstruct my view. Flowers are fewer and less robust but I know their type and know that they just need some water to reach their intended brilliance. The same glowing light I saw through the tunnel of the first path peeks through the spaces between the branches creating a hazy hope in what could be on the other side.  I can almost make out a dirt path underneath the jungle but it definitely has been seldom traveled. The way is rocky and laden with pebbles that surely find their way into every shoe they see. This path feels hot and sweaty with no bench, no birds. At the entrance to this path lies a machete.  

Map or machete?

This is His question in response to my f-bombs. He knows I'm a visual learner.

Do you want a map or a machete? Because you pray for the kind of adventure that requires a machete and then you get pissed that I'm not handing you a map. You pray for the kind of adventure that requires making something new and then you get pissed that I haven't already made it for you. Which is it? You can choose the safe and obvious path and I will be there with you on the shady bench reading the map with the star that says You Are Here pointing you in all the predictable directions, OR you can roll up your sleeves and pick up a (bleeping) machete and find out what you're made of, what I've made you of.

His pictures are always worth a whole slew of words.  

We've been hard at work over here knowing that there's a point where you have to stop asking other people for permission to do the thing God is putting before you and you just have to get busy. We've definitely been busy and I can't wait to share all of the art-work with you as it unfolds. But I get off track sometimes. I throw a fantastic pity party that usually involves a lame DJ spinning all the wrong songs and my inflated resume of related experience and good deeds and then I start to demand answers for why all the doors won't open. That's when the record scratches, my head turns and God shows me a picture that shuts me up and grows me up and I see that the path we've been traveling never even had a door. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

this way. keep going.

I collect words. Punch words. Not soft and fluffy warm fuzzy words, but words that full-on uppercut my soul with their heavyweight context. Each word holds such significance for the season at hand and each word represents the work being done in my spirit. A muse of sorts, my punch words swirl and drift, whispering a sense of things somehow familiar, like a story I've read somewhere before but can't quite place or a life I once lived in a land I've never seen. Like a scent jogs a memory. Sign posts pointing the way. 

I remember going camping as a kid. My family always tent-camped and fished on the lush banks of streams in the Arizona White Mountains. Those back roads on the reservation were tricky. Sure, you could use a map picked up at the Hon-dah bait and tackle stop where we'd buy our fishing licenses, but my parents knew the rugged paths so well they seemed to just feel their way along those dirt roads. All the way we'd see paper plates scribbled with last names nailed to trees signaling "this way" to those travelers trying to find their friends and family. I would always track the names as if I was a part of their group, wondering who they were and where they were from. Just when I'd feel like I hadn't seen a paper plate in awhile and feelings of getting lost would creep in another plate would pop up to remind the traveler they were on the right path. "Keep going". 

The punch words I collect pop up and remind me "this way" and to "keep going". They point to a fuller version of myself being shaped along the way, next step after next step. I keep these words. Maybe I write them on my "5 Things" chalkboard that hangs on the side of my armoire for me to see each morning when I wake up and each night as I close my eyes. Maybe I doodle them in the margins of my scrawled-in Bible or the memoir I'm re-reading yet again simply for the love of a wandering cross-country adventure in a VW bus. Sometimes I dry-erase marker my words on our bathroom mirrors or typeface them into Instagram photos. My punch words get lived in.  I speak them in conversation and write them in cards to dear friends. I fall head over heels for their dictionary definitions and sign language expressions. I associate colors with them. Some of my words require ALL CAPS and some all lowercase, each one according to their voice. 

Above all, the most valuable thing about these words is how God redefines many of them as He breathes them into my lungs. He takes a word that usually means one thing and He makes it mean something totally different. The redefining began five years ago during my grief following the death of my younger brother. Sitting on the floor in our bedroom, leaned up against our bed with a tear-stained copy of Lewis' A Grief Observed, I never doubted God's existence but I sure as hell doubted His goodness. Worst-case scenarios don't feel like goodness. Cancer and separation and loss don't feel like goodness. The whole of life's circumstances during those years did not feel like goodness. Ambivalence began to settle in as a response came...  I AM good, but my definition of good is so very different from yours. 

Lately new life gets breathed into words typically used as pejoratives. WANDER has been one of those words for me in this current season, but even more recently I have collected the word RECKLESS which is defined as "irresponsible in thought or deed, utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action, careless, foolhardy, ill-advised, negligent." Wow. Doesn't sound too good straight out of the dictionary does it? Not exactly a top ten character trait.

Until it comes from that still small voice. That voice I cannot hear with my ears but recognize instantly. That voice changes everything. 

Framed by my pursuit of Jesus, the one who relentlessly pursues me, the definitions of RECKLESS all of a sudden take on a different hue. A word that usually bears a negative intention laden with disapproval and accusation now breathes synonyms like adventurous, audacious, carefree, daring and wild. An invitation into freedom, an undignified flinging of ourselves into possibilities with belief blowing through our hair. Sounds foolish doesn't it? Sounds immature and definitely not at all responsible. And yet isn't it what we crave? I sure do. It's why I ride my beach cruiser, drive with the sunroof open, turn up the music and dance in the kitchen.  It's why I paddle oceans, lakes, and disgusting rivers just to catch reflections on the water, glimpses of creatures and currents moving underneath me and why I take the long way home just to be stunned for a second by the majesty of the sky. I crave a reckless joy and a reckless faith that believes in beauty and goodness and freedom in the face of destruction and hate and slavery.  I dig it up desperately searching for remnants of original intent. 

My punch words are simply a collection of personal beatitudes where Jesus says, "Blessed are the (insert something usually seen as negative), for they will (insert something usually seen as positive)."  He reorders. He elevates the unexpected. He sends the striving to the back of the line. He redefines my understanding of GOOD. He shows me the grace in FREEDOM and the treasure in WANDERing a path with many turns. He invites me to chase wildly, audaciously, RECKLESSly after Himself. And then He goes on and begins to turn everything I thought wI knew upside down and right side up with phrases like, "You've heard it said... but I tell you..." Jesus prefaces these words with a reassurance that He is not doing away with the law, but actually fulfilling it. Fulfilling. Making it more full and complete. Each "but I tell you" pointed toward a greater fulllness, a more complete understanding, a truer intention of the heart of God. Deeper. Wider. Higher. Further. Redefining what we thought we knew then. Redefining what we think know now. 

I wonder how many people this pissed off on the hillside that day. The Beatitudes are always taught in a dreamy sort of way. Such heartwarming inspiration for the underdog. Like Rudy. Gotta love it when the little guy gets the glory, right?  But really, the Beatitudes and Jesus' whole Sermon on the Mount was so subversive it must've seriously pissed of a bunch of religious people thumping their scripture scrolls while trying to earn their way along. Oh wait...pretty sure I've played for that team a time or two. How often do we point to words God has said and ignore the words He is currently saying? We can memorize verses and research context and know a lot about what He said to those thousands of years ago, which are all good things, but His word is alive now too! God speaks! He interacts and intervenes and engages His creation in real time! Are we listening to the words on the breeze or only reading the words on the page? 

It's easy for me to collect words. It's a lot harder to live into the fullness of them. It's hard to do the thing that seems careless, foolhardy, ill-advised and negligent to those who are on the outside. But when we do, we become part of the redefining, part of the fulfilling. We go from following the paper plates one by one along the path to becoming living breathing sign posts for other travelers along the journey. This way. Keep going. 

My fellow wanderer, trust the still small voice. Trust your ability to hear it. Know that the words spoken to you may not be spoken to those around you. They may be working with different definitions. It's ok. Respect their journey. Know that there may be times when "you've heard it said...but I tell you..."  brings disapproval and criticism. Wouldn't be the first time. Above all else, trust the one who calls you toward Himself.  He is a good guide full of grace for the weary. And, worst case scenario, if you mistake your rumbling hunger for His voice and you get lost along the trail, He always finds. Always. Risk it. Next step after next step. 

This way. 

Keep going

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

trafficking - scene 5: for I have not been given a spirit of timidity

Too late. He saw me. Months of trying to come up with a legitimate reason to skip this trafficking awareness night and here I am sitting in my car in front of the house, my sweet friend's husband waving me down like he's landing a plane. I can't bail now. 

Sweaty palms. Check.

Nausea. Check. 
Pulse racing. Check. 
Overall feeling of doom and destruction. Check.

Get out of the car. 

Ok. On the count of three, get out of the car. 


2 1/2...

Inside the house my default I-can-make-friends-with-a-brick-wall extroversion was failing me. There were awkward silences. I was binging on the veggie tray. Mentally mapping the exits and location of the bathroom were top priority incase me sticking my fingers in my ears and singing "lalalalalalala" became too distracting during the presentation.    

It was time to gather. Normally I prefer seating in the round all communal and everything, but this night, on this topic, what I wouldn't have paid for stale rows of folding chairs. 

Seats are filling! Quick! Grab one near the exit! It's like musical chairs from hell! Shit. The only one left is practically right next to the presenter. Awesome. This is what I get for hovering over the veggies for way too long. Now I am pretty much in everyone's peripheral vision for this entire thing. Perfect. 

Materials are distributed. Pages are turning. Stats. Photos. Case studies. Trauma. Shock. Horror. Police reports involving squeaky clean neighborhoods where friends of mine brag about not needing to lock their doors. Hot spots. Tactics. Crime rings. International systems. Well oiled machines of mind-blowing profits and the most sustainable resource available: children.

And then everything went quiet. At least in my ears it did. 

I wasn't cowering. There were no tears. No temptation to run. Instead, my spine straightened. My shoulders squared and I sat tall. My pulse slowed and my breathing became conscious. I could feel my teeth clench as my eyes narrowed through the words on the page and into the darkness. All of the fear, all of the panic, all of it vanished as light shined into the dark spaces and in it's place a flame was sparked. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

domestic violence and how the NFL is not the only one getting it wrong

Headlines this past week have Eric and I talking a lot about physical abuse, the NFL, unions, cover ups and legal systems versus corporate systems. Unfortunately, big superpower forces of culture like the National Football League aren't the only ones getting it wrong.  

Almost three years ago one of my closest friends walked through the darkness of divorcing a man who became physically, verbally, emotionally and spiritually abusive after just three weeks of marriage. He had been on his best behavior to get her down the aisle, knowing her deep belief in the holy institution of marriage, but it wasn't long before the honeymoon was over, the sham was up and the man she thought she married was nowhere to be found. 

She had broken up with him at one point during their dating relationship because of his temper. And then, like a textbook abuser, he manipulated his way back into her life using words and deeds greased with spiritual language and the very scriptures she holds so dear. He had experienced spiritual transformation! It was a miracle of God! He hung his head in humility acknowledging his sin and begged for grace! He was a changed man! If she would only see for herself! How could she not extend grace? How could she not see what God was doing in him? And so she opened the door. 

It was no surprise he rushed for a quick wedding. 

Just weeks later the fighting began again. The yelling, the blaming, the accusing, the shaming, the use of scripture as a weapon, the emotional manipulation of pressing on her childhood wounds. It was the day they had planned to go down to the courthouse to legally change her name. He woke up in the early afternoon after having worked his night shift. Knowing how volatile he could be when he wasn't rested, she offered to let him relax instead of running all over town and suggested they go to the courthouse the following week. He instantly began hurling accusations at her, taking her suggestion to mean she did not really want to change her name. It didn't matter that she, as usual, was simply trying to preserve a situation in hopes to not set him off. He wadded up a piece of paper and threw it in her face. He then spit in her face. In that moment she began to break down. She couldn't win. No matter what she tried to do, no matter what she said, she was powerless to avoid his anger. She began to sob. 

At this, her new husband didn't comfort her. He didn't reassure her. He grabbed his camera and began filming her saying, "See? This is who you really are! Everyone needs to see who you really are!" Shocked by his twisted delight in her suffering and his threats to show everyone they know, she grabbed the camera and headed down the hallway. He chased after her and with one kick swept her legs out from underneath her. Her legs flew up and she fell straight onto her hip. She was in excruciating pain and unable to walk so she crawled into the spare bedroom where he grabbed her phone, threw it against the wall leaving it shattered. 

The fear of not being able to call for help overwhelmed her. She began screaming and hyperventilating and crawled into the bathroom where she dry heaved into the toilet. And then the switch flipped. Apologies and excuses flowed like a river from the mouth of the man who called himself husband. 

"You know how I get when I haven't had enough sleep." 
"You should have just stuck to our plan for the day." 
"You know this isn't how I really am." 
"You know I'm not like this."

You. You. You. You.

My friend. She was so ashamed. She had just gotten married! She made excuses for him in her mind, for the times he had locked her out of their apartment, for the times he would drive away before she could get her entire body in or out of the car, for ALL THE THINGS that led up to and happened after that day.  She wanted to believe this wasn't really him, she wanted to believe she couldn't have been so wrong. And so she didn't tell anyone. For a couple months. She was completely alone. Until one night sitting in my car in a big-box parking lot, the dam broke and she wasn't alone anymore. It took another voice, one outside of her own nightmare, a safe place, a linked arm, to tell her THIS IS ABUSE. 

She finally left.

For months she lived on our couch. While she stumbled through fears and trauma, disillusionment, identity and her own mistakes, she begged God for direction, devouring His word and surrendering herself to its power. FREEDOM. A child of oppressive and legalistic Bible teaching, her default was to figure out the rules but her relationship with Jesus kept driving her deeper. FREEDOM. She resolved to do the right thing. Whatever God said to do, she would do it. FREEDOM. She kept recounting her actions and looking for ways she could have been different. FREEDOM. Long talks every night  brought tears and truth-telling and more tears. FREEDOM. The whispers of grace began spilling into her soul. FREEDOM. Every day she grew a little stronger, a little braver, and every day Jesus would come to peel back bandages covering old wounds in need of His healing hand. FREEDOM. Eric and I witnessed the gradual transformation as color began returning to her skin, her shoulders broadened no longer hunched in cowering, her posture reclaiming its length. Slowly she began believing what Jesus was actually stirring within her. FREEDOM. Not just freedom from the charade of a marriage or the abuse, but freedom from needing the approval of others, legalism, condemnation, fear... until she would meet with her pastors. 

Where the Spirit brought freedom, they brought doctrine. Where He offered grace and His unconditional love, they offered consequences. They cared. They really did. But they cared more about how her "situation" measured up to their convictions about divorce than they did about her. Multiple male pastors from multiple churches who had connections to my friend and this man gathered together to discuss the situation and then relayed their collective position resulting in sound bytes like "the Bible clearly teaches" and "if you proceed with an unbiblical divorce you must remain single for the rest of your life".

These well meaning men raised their eyebrows when talking about how she broke up with her husband while they were dating because of his anger issues and then she chose to marry him anyway. Translation: You should have known better

They sited with honor the story of another abused women who moved out of her house to be safe but then remained "married but separate" for five years while she waited for God to change her husband's heart.  Translation: You don't have enough faith

Almost everywhere she turned she felt scarlet letter stares. According to her Christian community she may as well have been the adulterous woman because everyone felt the need to weigh in with their biblical two cents. Very few linked arms with her in unconditional love. Very few.


It kept ringing. There was what so many voices were telling her and then there was what Jesus kept whispering to her. IT IS FOR FREEDOM YOU HAVE BEEN SET FREE. DO NOT THEN PUT BACK ON THE SHACKLES OF SLAVERY. 

My friend began to move forward toward divorce. Step by step she was walking in the trust that nothing could separate her from the love of God and that the whispers of FREEDOM were in response to all her cries. She was all but alone. She left her little churchplant  because he refused to stay away and their people there didn't know what to do about that. She couldn't go back to her former megachurch home because he went there too, he grew up with that family, he had served as a part of that leadership team. She tried to go to another Bible-teaching, grace-preaching church whose pastor was a part of that initial gathering, but he told her that if she was pursuing an unbiblical divorce then it wasn't the church for her. 

The words ricocheted within the walls of her heart shredding any sense of support she had hoped for and leaving her feeling utterly abandoned. 

Verbal abuse is a real thing. 

Emotional abuse is a real thing. 

Spiritual abuse is a real thing. 

And physical abuse is sure as hell a real thing. 

The NFL is not the only one getting it wrong. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

salt + light

I like sea salt in my favorite chocolate and mixed with garlic in my killer Fischer family guac, on the rim of a margarita and loaded into Eric's infamous ceviche, but better yet is salt in my eyebrows, on the tips of my eyelashes, strung throughout my hair and crusted in my bellybutton. The ocean runs through my veins and I adore the reminder left over after every rendezvous. Water is how I understand God and the world around me so salt is not just a cooking ingredient, it's a life metaphor I get a little geeked up on.

"Let me tell you why you are here. 
You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out 
the God-flavors of this earth. 
If you lose your saltiness, 
how will people taste godliness?" 

Salt magnifies flavor. It intensifies sweetness and counteracts bitterness. Food is tastier and life is juicier when its served up S A L T Y! It takes a good thing and makes it even better. Like the perfect fish taco, or a good conversation while paddling, add a pinch of adventure or celebration to an everyday moment and viola! you just got salty. Sometimes my salty-state-of-mind looks like a neighborhood skate with my girl to tell her how amazing she is, catching a sunrise by myself in silence to remember the One who just gave me another day to live, confronting a friend in the name of love so that iron can sharpen iron, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane for the ultimate perspective, chattin' up the tech while getting an MRI on my brain without fear of what may come, or swimming with sharks simply because they are beautifully created. Taking this life, this string of moments, up a notch = F L A V O R.

Did you know salt is also a natural preservative? I love this because when used to keep food, salt draws out moisture creating an environment where gross stuff (otherwise known as pathogenic microbes) cannot grow. Living salty is to cultivate love and truth and grace, adventure and risk and connection, so that those pesky pathogenic microbes cannot take root in our souls. When we fill our hearts and minds with what is true and good, there just isn't space for what is not. And we can feel it. When we see a certain commercial or learn about an injustice it doesn't sit well with us. It disturbs us. We need a salty soul filled with who God is and who He has created us to be in order to preserve the purpose for which we were created in the first place.

Salt enhances texture. Are you a texture person? Do you mind the slippery factor of oysters on the half shell? How about soggy cereal too long in the milk? What about an original painting versus a print? Or the wrinkled skin of an old woman with many stories to tell? Salt creates texture and makes a food more interesting to our taste buds. It also makes a life more interesting to live. Did I do more than simply exist? For all my rough edges and lumps and bumps, I would rather live a salty textured life of wandering up and down and back and forth than a smooth life of boring monotony. I want to shoot oysters with lemon and a touch of Cholula, eat cereal right after the milk pours in, run my fingers over a canvas covered in oils and hear tales from storyweavers whose wrinkles go where the smiles have been and where the tears have fallen.

Salt is nutrient. Our bodies require it. So do our souls. When our physical chemistry fluctuates our body triggers a craving. For me that amounts to sliced tomatoes with salt, green apples with salt and good ol' french fries. With lots of salt. Likewise, my spiritual chemistry craves the sea to maintain balance. A child of the tides, I am drawn with a gravitational pull that rivals that of the moon. But I also live in the real world where travel is not always an option and so I choose to practice beauty locally which means putting on my "perspectacles" and remembering that lakes and rivers are oases too.

And it binds. Salt is often used as a binding agent in foods. Living salty binds us to each other. We gravitate toward those who value what we value. That's easy. Loving the lovable requires zero risk and yields endless reward. But that's not the extent of saltiness. A salty soul also links arms with those whose saltiness may have been stolen or oppressed or just plain forgotten about and pulls them back into their own living color. Living salty gives permission to others to live fully alive too!

These girls are salty permission-givers and only two of them are coastal:

My girl Sarah is pure salt and inspire me like mad!  

Kelsey over here is currently in Uganda kicking a$$ and taking names actually doing the work and modeling orphan prevention.

Monica lives the ultimate salty lifestyle while raising a crew of groms and witnessing the beauty of creation on the North Shore every damn day.  

This one reminds me that gentleness props open doors and that Jesus truly is a revolutionary. 

This chick doesn't mince words and tells stories advocating for one of our favorite orgs.

Wherever you live, whatever you do, find the flavor this week!

“Here’s another way to put it: 
You’re here to be light, 
bringing out the God-colors in the world. 
God is not a secret to be kept. 
We’re going public with this, 
as public as a city on a hill. 
If I make you light-bearers, 
you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? 
I’m putting you on a light stand. 
Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, 
on a light stand—shine! 
Keep open house; be generous with your lives. 
By opening up to others, 
you’ll prompt people to open up to God."