Friday, December 23, 2016

When the "Where Are You, Christmas?" Question becomes a Blessing

The winter sun wears a crooked smile as it slants angle and warmly contrary through bare branches, across crunchy leaves, over my bare feet, and it grins wide open and as delighted as spring on my upturned face.

It's the day before Christmas.

Gingerbread Men are stacked on the kitchen counter. Thumbprint cookies rolled in toasted walnuts with dabs of fig preserves in the centers are wrapped in parchment and stored in the Christmas cookie jar painted all festive red poinsettias and green leaves on an ivory background. A neighbor friend gave it to me many Christmases ago when our children woke before the sun rose on Christmas morning. The cookie jar was filled with Christmas cookies then, and every Christmas since the jar has held a belly full of cookies.

The tree is lighted and decorated, and so is the house. Christmas music plays and gifts are arranged on the fireplace hearth.

"It doesn't feel like Christmas!" It 's not really a complaint, because who complains about Christmas. It's an observation. I've heard it many times this month from my own family and from the store clerk.

Songs like, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," and "We Need a Little Christmas, Right This Very Minute,"play.

Well, I'm sitting in by backyard just bathing my face in 70 degree crooked smile splayed oblivious across the face of the sun and, yeah, it doesn't feel like Christmas. It doesn't.

Crispy leaves lift and skitter in the sun. A bee bumbles inches above patio stones and a cricket is swimming in the pool and,"Praise God! It doesn't feel like Christmas!" My Bell Pepper plant is still green and roses blush like the rouged cheeks of a woman advanced in years who just learned that she is expecting her first child.

I open my Bible and gentle gusts of warm wind help me turn worn aged pages to the gospel of Luke. I read about a certain priest named Zacharias who was visited by the angel Gabrielle who told him, "Your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John" (Luke 1:11-13).

He said to the angel, "I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." I read it and I hear it the same way as I hear, "It doesn't feel like Christmas!"

"She's too old! I'm too old!" sounds like, "There's no snow! I'ts not cold!"

The angel Gabrielle muted Zacharias.

Elizabeth conceived, and what could Zacharias say? Nothing!

I decided to mute myself after hearing, "It doesn't feel like Christmas," one time too many, and agreeing one time too many.

"Christmas isn't a feeling," is how I choose to silently respond.

I'm feeling a warm sun and balmy breeze this morning, and "Praise God! Christmas isn't a feeling!" rustles through the likes of barefoot me.

Christmas Cookies

Elizabeth "Hid herself for five months," I read.

So, Zacharias is mute and Elizabeth is on retreat. How quiet! How quiet the preparation for the birth of the one named John who would prepare the way for the Savior. The very Prince of Peace!

"Thus the Lord has dealt with me," said Elizabeth in hiding, "in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."

"Oooh, Lord," I quietly amaze. "Haaa," my breath draws up long and it's whole sentence. "Elizabeth delivered the baby, son of Zacharias, whose birth would take away her reproach among people."

I think of the Babe who Mary would deliver; the Son of God, born to take away our, your and my, reproach.

Jesus, only Jesus, can take away our reproach; our sin and shame.

This feels like Christmas!

I continue to read that after five months in hiding, the "sixth month the angel Gabrielle was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary" (Luke 1:26-27). The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).

"This feels like Christmas to me, Lord." It does. This is the quiet, hidden, holy Selah pause which mutes and slows the foundation of my soul. Snow mutes and slows things like traffic and busy noise; but not the soul.

Leaves rattle, birds sing, yellow dog nudges me for a biscuit. We, rather yellow dog, goes to patio door wagging and panting all happy anticipation.

But I stop half-way across the patio. I stop because the wind builds suddenly and loudly. It rushed forward till bare Pecan branches and the full Junipers wave madly and pant with the exertion. I watch, half expecting to see a dove fly all white overheard. Something holy in that rush.

"Is this what it sounded like when Gabrielle spoke?" I wonder about wind and angels' wings.

Yellow dog insists, and we go inside.

Christmas music is playing. My Bavarian German husband has Christmas in his genes. "Silent Night" is playing as I come inside on this soul silent morning.

I've done all the traditional Christmas things.

I've braved the traffic and stood in line at the post office.

I've gone a little over budget, just a little, because I keep wanting to give.

I wonder to this Prince of Peace, "What does the exchange of gifts, the decorated tree, the trimmed up house, the baking, and the needy desire for snow have to do with unfathomable gratefulness that You were born to gift me with eternal life?" I honestly don't know because these things seem far removed from Elizabeth's five month retreat to ponder the miracle of the babe in her elderly womb; and from muted doubts, and from the overlapping nine months on nine months, Elizabeth's and Mary's quiet pregnancies.

Two babies would be presented and loudest baby cries wouldn't be heard in a ranting, rushing world.

What's a baby's cry to anyone but the mother who drips milk at the sound?

What are trees that breathe furious fast in a sudden wind that raises every branch in it's wake to anyone except those who somehow hear something holy in it all?

Who hears and who responds except those who listen for such things and can tell the difference between voices and winds that blow?

Elizabeth and Mary

Joseph had to go to Bethlehem by Roman tax decree. Mary join him, full of the Son of God.

"Did they rush to Bethlehem?" I can't imagine rushing a pregnant woman on a donkey across the wilderness.

The world rushed. Even then. The boarding in Bethlehem would be first-come, first-served, and no one wanted to be sleeping on the street.

"Who noticed the star announcing the birth of My Son?" He asks me.

Truth is, bright as that star was, the only people mentioned in the Bible who noticed were those calm enough to notice. Slow enough to look up, and quiet enough to hear an angel,

"The shepherds." I begin to answer Him, "and the magi came later, right?"  They watched and waited, and knew when to come.

I pause.

"Why not most of the people in Bethlehem? They were right there!" I'm picturing it and really, weren't crowds the same then as they are now? Elbows out. Heads down. Looking out for number one. Crowds are competitive like that, I think.

I want to be as shepherd. And as Elizabeth; and Mary. I do.

"You are hidden in Me." I know that's what He says. "I've given you sheep to tend with a quiet and gentle spirit." This is also what He says.

I'm hidden. Set apart to care for sheep, and I'm grateful.

I 'm pondering these things in my heart, as Mary pondered and, I'm certain, as Elizabeth pondered while in retreat for five months.

I'm preparing and delivering the Prince of Peace to a rushing loud world.

I'm redeeming time like this in a world where the days are long and time is short and I'm learning spend the time I redeem on Jesus, the Redeemer.

I'm striving to enter peace in a world that doesn't understand that the purpose for striving is to enter stillness. I don't know how it's done, but I do know it happens somehow in the practice.

I'm practicing on purpose today. I'm busy, yeah, and hurl fast down the freeway in traffic; and then crawl in a congested construction zone. I'm practicing stillness at 65 mph, well, okay, 70 mph; and practicing stillness in the crawl. Somehow stillness and rest have little to do with the speed of rush or of standstill.

The cars on the exit ramp to a shopping center spill onto freeway lane. The ramp isn't long enough to hold them. Christmas shoppers, mostly.

Sometimes I feel like a stranger in a rushing world. I just don't fit in when I think things like, Why do we give gifts to everyone but the One whose birth we are celebrating?

Who does that? Who celebrates the birth of a loved one by giving gifts to one another and forgetting the one who the celebration is for? It's an elbows-out kind of question that jostles. The answer is that I know no one who celebrates birthday's like that; unless they're celebrating the birth of Christ. I know. It jostles kind of hard.

"It's not because we give gifts, or decorate, is it?" I ask God why we forget His Son when we celebrate His birth and the question makes me sad.

I think about this Son of God, Jesus, for whose birth Mary gave herself. She gave up so much. Her reputation, her hometown, her body, her lifestyle, her sense of security. I

I think about the presence of the Son of God. His presence, undeniable as Mary's belly swelled and divided her family, Joseph's heart, and the entire town of Nazareth before He was born.Divisions like these are awkward, and painful, ostracizing, and terrifying. Those who wanted to believe the best about Mary, wanted to believe that the Holy Spirit was the father, must have had a crisis of faith. Maybe they reasoned, "Mary is either highly favored of God, or Mary is lowest sinner deserving to be stoned to death."

Joseph woke from a dream with holy reassurance and direction.

Elizabeth believed. She carried Jesus' predecessor, John the Baptist.

Elizabeth and Mary, what a pair!

Elizabeth delivered a baby who grew into a man who ate locusts and honey and wore camel skin and lived a rag-a-muffin rough life in the wilderness. I can only imagine what he was like as a boy! "Mommy! Look!" And Elizabeth would gasp as little Johnny dipped a locust in honey and popped it into his mouth.

Mary delivered a Baby who would become a Man who was also God and who would save people from hell, and would raise people from the dead, and who would be raised from the grave and hell Himself. I imagine Him as a boy. "Mommy! Look!" And Mary would quietly ponder with maybe a worry wrinkle as little Jesus practiced carpentry with two-by-fours and nails and hammered together a crucifix. I don't imagine one of his sister's dolls hanging on it; no, I imagine it empty and His sister's grateful.

Mary yielded, and was freed from the confines of all she gave up. Isn't that what happens when we listen for, and prepare to yield to, the Spirit? I can't say Gabrielle has visited the likes of me, but the Holy Spirit has.

Isn't the breath of the Spirit, the holy exhale of everything all "God is Alive and God is Good" vapor between the choice of yielding to my will or to God's?

Maybe the breath of God is heard by those like Mary and Elizabeth and the likes of Zacharias who hears that his prayer has been heard and then doubts it because, "Surely God isn't that good; is He?" Isn't it a blessing when God just shuts our mouths mute?

Maybe the breath of God is heard by those who choose a quiet life tending sheep till they begin to look a bit wooly themselves, in a world that demeans the humble.

Maybe the breath of God is heard by those who lean in close enough to kiss His cheek; and close enough to hold Him.

Maybe His breath is felt by those who strive to enter rest in a world that strives restless.

And isn't there tension in breathing? In holding breath as thin as the surface tension of the water Jesus was baptized in by John the Baptizer? In the not-my-will, but-Yours matters as rough as Roman hewn wood, iron nails, thorns, whips, salve, and a hundred pounds of embalming ointment made from myrrh and aloes? In the matters of linen swaddling cloth and burial cloth, and of a large stone only angel strength can roll away?

Isn't there tension in the matter of preparing to celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus the Christ, the Prince of Peace who is Emmanuel-God with Us. Mary felt it for sure, and maybe it's still felt. Seems to me it is. Seems to me that's a good thing if it's the holy tension felt in striving for holy still all Selah pause because the birth of Christ stops the heart and soul and feet.

Manger and Cross

"Where are you, Christmas?" I may ask because some things are absent and I miss them this time of the year. Or some people are distant. Or gone. Or some circumstances are far too close to home for comfort at this time of the year.

I ask God, "Make my heart large enough to contain the holy matter which is the stuff of Your life, not mine." I don't know how else to put into words the blessing I'm experiencing by the absence of whatever things aren't the same as they were in Christmases past.

I ask, and somehow the "Where are you, Christmas?" question becomes a blessing felt for real and in real time, because the answer is free from what's absent. So I say, "Praise God! Christmas isn't a feeling! It's just an outrageously holy rush all joy and worship and cheer that has everything to do with recognizing the gift He is.

He who knew not the confines of skin and bones and flesh,was born and wore it.

He who wore glory, wore skin.

He who wore holiness, wore sin.

He who saved mankind, was Son of God, crucified.

He who slept in manger hay, is manger in whom I long to rest.

I pray and somehow the prayer which flows from my heart comes out in rhyme-

Son of man, God and flesh; Son of God, my righteousness. And sin more bitter than gall, is purposed that I would fall. Perhaps sin's calling is high;  what else is strong to fell my pride? And sin's condemning power, compelled me toward salvation's hour!

The stair rail is wrapped in lighted garland and red bows. White lights weave between red vases filled with red poinsettias and the nativity figurines youngest daughter made many years ago are arranged on the dining table with candles. Candles are everywhere.

Yeah, I like decorating for Christmas. But I do it differently now than I did in Christmases past. I stop decorating before I'm done. I stop when I hear in my spirit, "That's good. Stop." I strive to stop. It's not easy to stop before I'm done, because it's difficult to yield. But when I yield, something marvelous happens.

I am freed!

When I yield to the Spirit, I'm freed from my will.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

(reprint from 2015)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

They're Just Bell Peppers

Psalm 92:12-15
"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

They're only green bell peppers, not palm trees or cedars.

They're not planted by streams of water, but by my driveway.

They're old, for bell pepper plants anyway.

Psalm 1:3
"That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers."

The leaves are withered, but still these are the verses I thought of this morning after the freeze last night; after I noticed six peppers fresh and green dangling in the cold air from sturdy stems but beneath the withered and weathered sag which happens with age in this strip of garden.

And in this bit of me.

It happens in the courts of nature but somehow, sometimes, fruit flourishes even still. Even in old age.

I peel wilted thin leaves from fresh plump fruit, and watch cold air catch my breath and hold it before it thins and vanishes and I breathe again.

The cold, it thins.

I hope to bear fruit in old age-even as my skin thins.

I hope to be found delighting in the law of the Lord and meditating on it day and night. Maybe this, too, is a thin place in a world thick with noise, information, wealth and poverty and plans and desires for more.

Maybe cold air is a thin place where the courts of God are glimpsed through frost-bitten foliage.

I touch a pepper fresh and green, and remember what God says about faith and hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for.

I feel it like this-I hope to flourish in the courts of my God.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thicket and a Ram

Isaac, Abraham,
Worship the I AM;
Thicket, and a ram,
Submit to His plan. 

Do I, as some say,
Hold tight what I should slay?
Raise high, elevate,
Not knife, but my way?

Wood, rope, fire in hand,
Angel spoke, "Abraham!
Your hope is My plan,
Use the rope on the ram!"

Ram's horn caught in dread,
Sin's thorn crowned the head,
Raised sword drew up red,
Guilt blood in Isaac's stead.

"I give what I love,
Now lift, offer up
Ev'ry gift, it's enough;
And live in My love."

"Father, here's my life,
Offered day and night!
Spared for heaven's light,
Suffer me this right!"

Isaac, Abraham,
Thicket, and a ram,
Tasked with His command;
"It is finished!" cried the Lamb.

Thing is-
Some say
of something they know should be let go, "A trial like this
feels like it's
title fits
my Isaac." Word is writ, of ram in thick, of Abraham's pile of sticks;
And I must say,
there's no way that I am as Abraham!

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Not Too Deep for Bare Feet

I'm feeling it, the tug, familiar except it has that broken-in feeling like the weathered rope which young boys shimmied up the pecan tree and rigged there some twenty years ago. Back then the rope was young and taut just like the suntanned little boy chests puffed out all proud, "Look daddy!"

And daddy, well I think his chest puffed out a little proud, too. He strutted, yeah strutted, to his garage with two sweaty boys in tow, following his every move and mannerism. "Now, men," he looked several feet down his 6'4" frame at the men.

"Yes, daddy," the men jumped like grasshoppers.

"Think you can can roll that tire on out to the rope?"

The 3'2" men flexed and that tire, wobbley, rolled round about and maybe daddy steered it just a little bit. Maybe he made the tire just a little lighter-just enough for his little men to think they did it all by themselves. Maybe. It depends on who tells the story.

These days the old rope seems to long for the day when it can set the tire down on the grass a few inches away, and rest.

Sometimes I straddle the tire and lean back till my hair sweeps the ground and my eyes sweep the sky and the wind sweeps, too.

Sometimes I tug that tire swing up to the trampoline, hold on tight, and I don't know which of us gets the bigger thrill, the tire or me, but we gasp together in swing and spin; and because a crash to the ground is about as far away as a freshly mowed blade of grass is tall.

"What is this broken-in tug I'm feeling?" I've tied a few knots in the rope to shorten it because though it's ready to stretch out full and retire on the grass, I'm not ready for it to do that just yet.

I'm not ready for me to do that.

I'm broken-in, and it's a comfy kind of feeling to wear my skin loose because four children sort of stretched me this way and that in the tug toward their adult years.

There's still some stretch left in me. Still enough slack to make more notches and I don't mind that the hips I supported babies on just aren't there anymore, because I don't need them anymore.

Joy applauds blessings. It does.

I hear applause when pecans pop-pop on the ground, loosed by scrambling squirrels, old tire swing sway, an autumn rain, and claps of thunder, too,

Joy applauds like that.

Once two small barefoot boys in matching swim trunks ran into the summer rain and sailed their paper boats down the alleyway where rain water swirled high toward storm drains just right here behind the house.

I wonder how often joy is so near-if we would only run through the rain to get it. Blessings, too.

Joy and blessings-they're not too proud for back alleys, paper boats, and bare feet.

Two little boys splashed-just splashed into joy.

Tires splashed, too; but not into joy. Cars stalled in bothersome rainwater coming down faster than storm drains could swallow.

Funny how the same rainfall engulfed tires, but wasn't too deep for bare feet.

Thing is, joy and blessings aren't missed because they've gone missing but because they're not met. Are they overlooked because they're not looked for? Not found because who thinks to search the alleys? In the rain?

Curious George and the man in the yellow hat, they raced paper boats. 

My two little boys, they heard the rain on the sky light just above the green couch where paper boats raced across pages; and they applauded, "Can we make paper boats?!"

That's how it began, meeting joy that day.

Maybe it's how to begin meeting joy everyday.

Maybe delays and stalled out engines and sometimes even umbrellas-inconveniences and conveniences alike-hint at joy so near it nearly tugs our shoes off, turns umbrellas inside out, soaks through dress suits worn by those kicking the tires on their stalled vehicles till they look down an alleyway and would give anything for a pair of swim trunks and a paper boat.

Maybe joy begins like that sometimes.

I wore flip flops that day.

I ran through the rain; chased my two boys, paper sailboats, joy. I chased joy down the alley to where it was deep.

"Let's race our sailboats!" The boys called to each other across the river, and the rain applauded.

They splashed and joy soaked them. Soaked me.

And blessings, the everyday kind? They're deep enough to stall a line of cars, but not too deep for bare feet.

I'm kicking my shoes off!

Where's my paper boat?

Back alley blessings and deep joy. Today.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Serenity Prayer-A Song

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I can’t change.
God grant me the courage and peace
To change the things that I can.
God grant me wisdom to see
The difference between- 
God grant me the miracle of serenity.

This prayer is mine,
Take it one day at a time,
‘Cause ev’ry single minute I breathe
I pray for serenity.

God grant me the strength I need
To lean on You when I don’t understand.
God grant me the ability
To stand up when I know I can.
God grant me the humility
To confess and make my amends-
God grant me the miracle of serenity.


written by Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Friday, November 11, 2016

Seven Bags of Blessings, and Two Cubed Potaotes

Some mornings I get the feeling that the Lord has been waiting since before sun-up in my prayer closet, just busting at the seams excitement over the bags of blessings He's prepared and stacked in His courts for me to come by and receive.

It took me longer than usual to come into my prayer closet this morning. I had seven bags to stack on the front walkway for the Salvation Army to pick up. Seven bags of blessings! Seven bags!

This husband of mine, the Canadian-born Bavarian? He's a polo shirt and shorts kinda guy. All year. Except when he must wear a suit, but thanks to his new career the full business suits stay on the hangers.

"Oh, sw-e-e-et heart," I call from his closet just all sugar with a feather duster in hand. "Can you come here a moment?"

I hear him come from the next room and the melodramatic in me strikes a pose I Love Lucy would be proud of.

He peers into the closet and I begin dusting the shoulders of his suits with flourish. I sorta hope he sneezes.

He just looks at me.

I move to the next suit. The passive- aggressive in me waits for him to say something.

He doesn't.

But the next day I hear him from across the house. He's singing in the closet.

He doesn't sing in the closet, I think to myself.

But then, I answer myself, I don't dust suits.

And something else-what is that other sound?

The man's been working out. His arms look to be about the size of the dumbbells he pumps, the polo shirts look to have shrunk and the shorts to have grown, or something.

Once I folded and stacked the polo shirts he's had hanging in his closet for, I don't, fifteen years? I did it again recently. Thing is, he's never been keen to cull his clothes. To him, if it was good fifteen years ago, it's good as new. To me, it's all a jumble of relics any thrift store 'round about these part would be thrilled to have.

I decide not to interrupt his singing and whatever else he's doing. What is that sound? I wonder a second time.

I sip my morning coffee. Text my mother. Load the dishwasher. Start the washing machine-and he bounds into the laundry room grinning like a goof, "I have a surprise for you."

"Really?" I love surprises.

He takes my hand and leads me toward the closet at the far end of the bathroom. "Careful there," He steers me around about seven bags of clothes stacked between me and the closet.

He preempts what he knows I want to ask, "What's this, you ask?"

I nod, silent.

"I organized my closet." He folds his barbell-ish arms and rocks back on his heels about as nonchalant as I was with the feather duster.

"Mm-hmm," I try to keep from whooping a ya-hoo, "Is this your closet then?"

"Mm-hmm," He teases; and I do a little jig right there because this is a beautiful moment.

The Salvation Army truck came this morning, and I can hardly wait for some unemployed man to try on one of the suits bouncing across town just now in the back of the truck. This man, he'll look in the mirror and stand a little taller in one of my husband's suits, and like that he'll go to a job interview.

In the meantime, here in my prayer closet? Mr. Salvation Army Himself is opening what I'm calling bags of blessings before I can open the Bible. It sounds like this-phone chirps every few minutes.

Bag #1: A friend I haven't heard from in a couple years sends me a thinking of you message.
Blessing: We schedule right here and now to meet for coffee next week.

Bag #2: A woman from Missouri contacts me about one of my LilBit Books-n-Boutique handmade journal. She wants to donate it in exchange for some good reviews.
Blessing: Well, someone found my shop and wants to order a journal!

Bag #3: I discover that I misread the time of my appointment today.
Blessing: There are more bags and I have the time to see what's in them. And, seems there's a theme happening here in my prayer closet this morning-something about donating blessings.

Bags #4 and #5: Two more friends text me, "Are you free to visit next week?"
Blessing: Friendship!

Bag #6: "Can you come by to visit today, and maybe bring some soup?" She can't get out of bed by herself and has been craving her favorite soup for two week!
Blessing: Obvious

"Lord! Six Bags!?" I'm making a mental ingredient list for potato-leek soup.

"Seven," He responds.

Bag #7: Some man is going to go to a job interview, shoulders squared in one of my husband's suits.
Blessing: Donating seven bags.

"Now that's a truck load!" It is.

I sense His Spirit waiting with an unspoken, "And?"

"And, Lord," I know what follows. Blessing from blessing, that's what. "And, it's more blessed to give than to receive-to donate, too."

Isn't this wonderful?

Wonderful that one item from seven bags, one suit in a thrift store, might hang from the discouraged shoulders of a man-and square them?

Wonderful to be led by my grinning Bridegroom to this prayer closet and then discover why He's grinning wide as my husband grinned when he led me around the bags on the bathroom floor? I wonder if my Lord began grinning right about then because maybe He put my husband up to this as a hint at what was to come. Maybe.

To me, this is big potatoes!

I wash the potatoes and leeks.

Cube the potatoes and, guess what? Math happens in my kitchen. Two potatoes, cubed to the second power = a pot of soup. One pot of soup divided by two = blessing on blessing multiplied by blessing.

Isn't this wonderful!

Well, at the moment, I'm certain I haven't cubed enough potatoes in my life; and that I've missed some blessings before in my prayer closet. I've probably even tripped over them-tripped over blessings. It's what happens when I'm more aware of my prayers than of God's presence.

Today I'm going to cube potatoes, divide a pot of soup, pack it into my truck and deliver a bag of blessing.

I'm going to package a journal and tuck a note into it:

the Dreams you dream
the Thoughts you think
the Plans you plan
the Journeys you take-

And then I'm going to  bounce along Main Street to the post office.

Seven bags of blessings, two cubed potatoes, a pick-up truck and my grinning God?


written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

When the Only Platform That Counts is the Foundation

So, I'm not politically engaged, and I'm beyond miserable at knowing what's in the news, but I do listen to people. And in my little world I hear from a narrow group of people–sisters in Christ.

Today this little group has been vocal and emotional. Maybe the angry words spoken by several new moms against Trump and his character would be much the same against Hillary were she voted into office, but I suspect that the anger and "I don't know how we came to this as a nation," confusion stem from fear. After all, aren't confusion, anger, and fear relatives-except for the righteous fear of the Lord!

I relate to this group looking at a frighteningly uncertain future as they wrap their protective arms around their little ones; because I've wrapped my arms around my little ones like that way back when. I have no idea who the Presidents were during those years because as I said, I'm basically checked out when it comes to politics and news. I know, I shouldn't be. I could ask my husband, the Canadian-born Bavarian. He'd know, but at this point I can't say I care much about politics past. 

What I do care about today is what I've been hearing and what I hear behind the words.

Thing is, we didn't get where we are overnight while votes were being counted. We've been here, a godless nation, for a very long time. We really have.

I wonder, maybe we've misinterpreted God's patience to mean that all the warnings and examples of His promised righteous judgment on unrighteous nations don't apply to us. He's so merciful and generous with His blessings that it might be easy to forget that His mercy and generous blessings run deeper than what we might call favorable circumstances. 

Is His mercy less when a nation comes under His righteous judgment than when He's extending patience beyond imagination? It's not. Neither are His generous blessings. 

Sometimes we can see through hardship enough to say with sincerity that it's a blessing in disguise, but occasionally all we can say is something like, "Lord, I know You well enough to know that one day I'll see through the disguise, even though right now it seems impossible."

What if we, as women and mothers prone to surges of emotion especially where our children are concerned, chose to manage and channel our fears as God has told us to?

Mrs. Proverbs 31, she isn't afraid of snow-winter seasons-for her household because she's prepared for it.

Mrs. Abraham, Sarah? Her daughters aren't afraid of any terror.

Thing is, when we choose to fear God, and God alone, our emotions are held in check. That's just the way it works. 

When we rightly fear God-when our fear of God isn't based on our emotions but on His perfect word-law, then we are freed from lesser fears. And compared to fearing God, anything else we could possibly warrant as worthy of our fear and trembling just ripples till it smooths out as water on a pond ripples when disturbed and then is smooth as glass moments later.

I would say to women who fear the future of this nation on the behalf of their children, "Prepare for the snow on behalf of your children as Mrs. Proverbs 31 prepared for her household. " Then I'd say, "Go get your Bibles and open them to Hebrew 4:12.'"

And after they read it, I'd say something like, "Earnestly ask God, 'What do You mean? What's the difference between soul and spirit, and why do they need to be pierced and divided?'" 

I'd encourage them to ask the same thing about the joints and marrow, and about the need for the thoughts and intents of our hearts to be discerned by the sword. isn't this the preparation of the gospel that our hearts, minds, and souls need as we love Him with our entire beings? As we prepare to trust His Spirit more than we trust our worry prone souls?

Seems to me that when we are rightly divided, we are rightly prepared to hear what God means rather than to hear what we might want to think He means. 

When He tells us to fear Him, maybe He's also saying something like, Don't be afraid of the future of a godless nation or it's ruler. 

Mothers, even if this nation refuses to repent, your children aren't beyond redemption. 

Show them by preparing your heart with the truth of Godly fear what it looks like to fear God. One thing for certain, it's not going to be communicated by way of grumbling, complaining, insulting and a train-wreck of emotion. 

Communicate to your children by way of the grace God gives you to be to them what He says you are to Him-the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus-and guess what? You may be as certain as anything that your children will be equipped to know the true battle and how to fight it with the kind of Godly determination that times of desperation call for.

The other group of women I've listened to today? I can relate to them. I'm their generation. We may have raised their children but now we're mother-in-laws and grandmothers and we would never have voted for Hillary, but for the "life" platform because, as one woman put it "Please understand, we've been forced to vote by platform."

Forced by whom?

And isn't the only "platform" for life the foundation of Life?

Maybe it's better to stand on that foundation rather than on an iffy platform that is built by those who fall of it with regularity?

I can't help but think about when David was given the choice “And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for His mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14).

David was given three choices, and he chose the third-to fall into the hand of the Lord.

Somehow this sounds familiar to me today. It's why I, (uh), didn't, (ahem), vote yesterday. Because we're really not forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. We Christians have the same basic third choice that David had-to declare by vote to the Lord that we choose His righteousness even if it means judgment. Isn't it better to be judged by God who is mercifully fulfilling His promises than by platforms that don't seem to know what a promise is?

I came across this yesterday written by Benjamin Franklin: "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that 'except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this...."

Well, I'd say that I firmly believe this too.

It's real.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Reckoning Mirror

A sister shared, "I don't like who I've become." Another put it, "I feel like I lost myself somewhere between babies and retirement." And still another, "I'm so distracted I can barely hold a thought down long enough to write a sentence!" And I wonder why the epidemic? At least it seems epidemic, lately-soul ailment.

I've said it before, in the midst of pain. And I've wondered at the face I recognize in the mirror as my own when it doesn't look like what I'm feeling inside-and also when it does.

There have been times when I would have just declared myself an orphan of my own guardianship-gladly.

Is that possible?

Well, somewhere along the way I found that I'm a miserable guardian of my own soul. I am. All I have to do is look at what my actions, words, countenance reflect on bad days to know it's true.

So, it's true. Why doesn't it feel as bad as it sounds? I've wondered about this, too.

And I wonder it now because I'd like to say to these sisters, "You are wonderfully made in the image of God!"

And then I'd like to say, "So, you don't like what you see in the mirror? You're looking in the wrong mirror."

And then? I'd put a Bible in their hands and say, "See what you look like in the reflection of God's eyes."

The eyes of God are all the mirror I need. Or want. 

If I look deep and long enough to find the face of my soul reflected in the light of His eyes, then I must agree with what's there.

What's there?

A mysterious reflection, that's what. 

A resemblance of me-enough to know it's me-and an image the likes of which I only believe because it's in God's eyes.

The first time I saw it, this mysterious reflection, I wrote "Grace" on the frame of the mirror-in the margin of the scripture, "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

And then I wrote, "Reckon it even if it doesn't look like it."

Maybe His eyes are, to me, a reckoning mirror.

I kept reading as a woman dying to know life; and as a child born to be adopted and as an ailing soul.

I found that what I really wanted, no, needed, is a guardian who loves me more than I possibly can.

Who loves like that?

The Spirit of adoption, that's who.

"Look at Me," He says; and then He holds my eyes to the reckoning mirror, "I made My begotten Son who knew no sin to be sin for you, that you might become My righteousness in Him."

I want to look away, but He holds my eyes and continues, "You received the Spirit of adoption by whom you cry out, 'Abba, Father.'"

Well, now I don't want to look away! Still, "Hold my eyes steady on Yours, Father," because I know that if I blink, I surely will look away.

Thing is, I can't deny what His eyes witness.

Boston Ivy drapes her tresses a little thinned out, a lot colored in all dark shades of red, worn-out greens, browns and I half expect to see some gray beneath the tendrils lifted in windy toss. It's because this ivy and me, we're okay in our autumn do's. We're okay with the color changes, she with hers and me with mine all shades brown to blonde to gray because I'm a brunette who's lived in the sun long enough to be half blond and, yeah, gray too.

"Father," I tuck loose strands of hair behind my ear and feel His eyes hold my soul still.

Right now, in the slant of autumn, the only thing that matters about me is whose child I am.

I'm done being my own guardian.

Pecan leaves twirl the air yellow. They're okay, too, as they nearly spring right off the branches with no seeming regrets about the good ol' days because, guess what? The best days weren't when they were bound in green too immature to be beautiful in unbound liberty. No, the best days are the I'm free to fall because the truth about me isn't about me, days.

Well, isn't this wonderful? I think it is, because in this freedom there's true grace-the kind which is full of the life from Whom it comes. Any other grace is an empty shell.

I gather a handful of pecans. Oh, there's a tree load ready to fall.

I snip a bundle of basil and snap five more bell peppers from the plant. And there are more to come, while the ivy fades a few paces away.

I, who have suffered myself my sisters have themselves, choose to spend my time gathering pecans meaty full and calling them a testament of true grace. No excuses; no empty shells.

There are days when I don't exactly like myself, but so what? I choose to look unblinking into the reckoning mirror.

I choose to see what my Father witnesses just there.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig


Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Rock Who Skipped-revised :-)

A man skipped a rock.
It skidded across 
The surface of the pond-

Image result

Of course, it sank;
Ran out of strength.

But as the man watched,
He praised the Rock of
Ages who walked
The waves, and sought Him
For Salvation.

The Rock behaved as stone,
Sank to depths unknown,
Yet dragged my sin below-

Christ, my joy today,
Skips with joy this way.

He drowned sin's woe
In fire, hell's sulpher home.
 Praise the Lord, my soul!
I'm not drowned, but washed, whole,
And clothed in whitest robe
Of Salvation.

Sing His praises, and lift
The Rock of Ages who sifts
Our sins away and gives-

He gives! He laughs, sings,
And plays the wind's strings!

The Rock, He skips,
And the joy on His lips
Is the strength which gripped
My sin and stripped me of it
For Salvation

He's coming; the great
And awesome Name
Who reigns, unchained-


Death could not keep down
The King and His crown.

Oh, enter His gates,
Lay hold of His claim,
Center your praise,
Walk on the waves with the Rock,
Of Salvation.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig