Beautiful Things

With my car in the shop this week, my mother was kind enough to loan me her car for a few days. As I drove away from the house today, I called out through the rolled-down window, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of your menagerie!”

We both laughed as she waved and hollered back. “You know that’s right!”

A few minutes later, sitting at the stoplight, I punched play on the stereo and heard her favorite classical music fill the car as I smiled at her “menagerie”—her collection—the three teddy bears hanging on the glove compartment, two tiny plastic lizards and two seashells on the dashboard, a wooden frog in a cupholder, and a wooden cross hanging from the mirror. In a flash, I realized one of the things I love about my mother—she surrounds herself with beautiful things.

To me and you, her collection may not be that beautiful. In fact, to us, it might be ugly or tacky, but to Mama, each one of those items holds a special memory that makes it beautiful to her. And because it’s beautiful to her, she doesn’t really care what others think about it.

That teaches me a couple of things.

First, instead of filling my life and my space with useful things that have no beauty or meaning, it’s okay to slow down and enjoy the special, lovely things that God has blessed me with.

Second, when God gives me gifts and when I find beauty and meaning in my life, it doesn’t really matter if others find them ugly, tacky, or tasteless.

My favorite book is the children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit. I don’t remember my Mom reading it to me as a child. I don’t think I actually picked it up until I was in college, studying literature. But I was captivated by it and fell in love with it. And the best part is when the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit,

“Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When you are loved for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loved, then you become Real. It doesn’t happen all at once. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

And as I read that, I’m painfully and amazingly aware that I am loved that way—by Jesus. And I’m blessed with a Mom that loves that way, too, because of Jesus.

And I’m left with one thought: I want to be more like my Mom and Jesus.

About Sarah Salter


  1. sounds good to me.

  2. Sarah: loved this insight into your world. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To your mom that world is beautiful. To you it is because it reminds you of your mom. to me, I am eternally grateful that I was/am beautiful in the eyes of the ONE who mattered.

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Bill, Amen! And thank you!

  4. Sarah ~

    The Velveteen Rabbit was read at my wedding reception as part of my maid of honor’s toast to us and it is one of the most special memories I have of our wedding day. She blessed us with one of the most amazing toasts about the authenticity of our friendship. Thank you for bring that special memory back to me today with your post!

  5. Sarah Salter says:

    Oh, I love that, Cheryl! Thanks for sharing that!

  6. Uncle Lee says:

    Sarah, your blog, describing a moment with your Mom, painted such a nice picture. Anyone never having met her would be presented with a clear understanding of her loving nature. You reminded me of my sister-in-law’s kindness and love for others. I have missed her. And “Thank You” for your good work. I am sure that you bring joy to a lot of people. When you are not “jet setting” to the PNW, come visit in Burgaw (we’re just down I40, ya know). Love ya.

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Uncle Lee, she inherited that from Jesse Staton, did she not?! Do you remember HIS collection? And how Grandmama hated it!! (She was so tolerant!) Thanks for coming by. Give my love to Aunt Becky! 🙂

  8. I love that book, Sarah. My wife introduced it to me. She’s a school teacher and is in love with children’s books.

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Herb- I love it when God takes something that wasn’t particularly written or done or said when His purposes in mind and He turns it into a tool of the Kingdom. The Velveteen Rabbit’s totally like that. On the other hand, I WAS created with His purposes in mind and I want to be obedient to be a tool of the Kingdom. (Wait. That might just be a blog post of its own…) Thanks for coming by, my friend!

  10. Great post! What a great reminder. Thanks 🙂

  11. Beautiful. Love this!

  12. Surrounded by beautiful things is such a awesome God thing! Thanks for sharing that story about your mom. My mom was a “collector” also, when she passed away I found all kinds of trinkets that she used to cheer herself up. What a blessing your story was!

  13. Sarah Salter says:

    Mo, Jonathan, and Jay- Thank you for coming by! I’m so glad you were blessed by it! And Jay, as you might can see from my comment on my Uncle Lee’s comment above, my Mom (the apple) didn’t fall far from the tree (her Daddy). I come from some great stock! 🙂

  14. mama & Ruby says:

    little girl!!!!!I started crying before I was half way thru the first paragraph!!! YES!! I guess I did inherit this tendancy from daddy to keep special-cutesy things in my car! but you are right-each item has a special place in my heart-did you enjoy the classical??!?

  15. Sarah Salter says:

    Mama, I ejected the flute disk and switched to Handel. You know I LOVE that! 🙂

  16. Collections are loved by the collector I guess. The cool thing is we’re part of God’s collection, in a way, and that means we’re loved by the only one that matters.

  17. I picked up a small squeaky toy elephant in a crowded holiday time parking lot one day. I felt duty bound to save him from squashing. He’s ridden with me ever since, and through two cars. He sits in my PT Cruiser, inside the front cup holder for safety. The other treasure I always carry in my car is a walnut shell sailboat my dad made for me. They are like touchstones for my car and have taken my imagination for a ride many times. If my daughter borrows my car, they go with too. As for music, we have eclectic taste in our family. I’d be delighted with your Mom’s selection I’m sure. That would please my mom too. But in my Dad’s car, it’s either Tejano, or Roger Whittacker.

    Your post made me tear up with gratefulness Ms Sarah Salter. You are a blessing!

  18. Sarah Salter says:

    Alex- Even better, the book of James says we are his CHOICE creations! Thanks for coming by!

    Robin- That’s a sweet story! And you’re welcome! 🙂

  19. Papa Bear (the Preacher) says:

    Your mama is one of a kind, but she is so special and I love her more now than when we first started this pilgrimage together 38 years ago. It is said that opposites attract and man! were we opposites. She loves the Beatles and all I listened to was Southern Gospel or Country. It was hard for her to get turned on to my likes and certainly at times I didn’t enjoy her likes at all. You know like that “menagerie” she has come to appreciate all my pecularities and I’ve learned to love hers, no matter how strange it may have seemed. And together we are proud of two special children God has given us. Sarah, keep up your good work. I love the gift God has given you to see HIS Kingdom in the midst of life and be able to communicate to others the things HE is showing you. No, I didn’t cry, but it made me very proud of how God could speak to you out of something so simple as the little things your mother has added to her PT Cruiser to make it her special vehicle. Love to you!

  20. Papa Bear (the Preacher) says:

    PS, I glad your lap dog is there with you this week.

  21. Uncle Lee says:

    Ah hah, I KNEW IT! All these years your Mama has gotten by with the impression of others that she is computer illiteriate! I knew that could not be true. Today, her response to this site proves me right. Sorry, Carolyn, I love ya, but your cover is blown!!

  22. Sarah Salter says:

    Uncle Lee- What her comment DOESN’T show is that I had call her & say, “Mama, what are you doing right now? Stop and go read my blog. Do you remember how to get there? Make sure you read Uncle Lee’s comment at the end.” And then, when she commented, bless her heart, I had to go back and edit her comment because, bless her heart, my Sweet Mama can’t type. But we love her anyway! 🙂

  23. Uncle Lee says:

    Oh fiddly sticks, I thought I had her. Thanks for clearing up the miracle, ha. I guess we can continue to feel sorry for her computer apptitude. But, still a great piece you did.

  24. What a beautiful piece….it is good to be reminded of the better perpective. 🙂

  25. Nice! Keep thought thought with you all day. When those unsavory moments happen then you can reflect on this and smile.

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