Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Blessing for Nachos

“…and He will bless your bread and your water…” (Exodus 23:25)

Green bell pepper, white onion, mushrooms that somehow grow tan in the dark, and tomatoes bright as the sun itself; aren’t vegetables beautiful? I line them up on the kitchen counter, these four beauties, every Friday night. I’ve done this for the past 25 years.

I dice the vegetables while my husband—the big Bavarian—selects a stack of movies to choose from.

Friday night, our date-on-the couch night, began as quick cure for the likes of me after a week of newborn diapers, a spit-up rag over one shoulder and so much love from a baby that I needed to feel like a wife! I’d nurse our first baby to sleep extra early on Fridays, change out of the spit-up rag, maybe put a little lipstick on and prepare a big plate of veggies for date night!
Uh, no.

I dice ½ a bell pepper, ½ an onion, about 6-7 mushrooms and 1 tomato.

I brown some beef and flavor it with mesquite and chipotle seasoning and pull out the baking sheet.

So, 26 years ago I was a new wife and this Bavarian loved Dorito’s. Really loved them—and still does. What does a new wife do? Well, this one opened the bag of Doritos and spread a layer of the chips on the bottom of the baking sheet.

Then I grated cheese. The Bavarian loved cheese—still does. I’d sprinkle cheese over the cheesy Dorito chips. Yeah, I know. This is supposed to be about food that I can ask God to bless without first asking for a miracle, “Please transform the cheese flavored Doritos with grated cheese on top so that You can bless it to nourish and strengthen us.

There was beef. And there were veggies. And garlic. Just not as much as I put on now.

God didn’t do any food transforming miracles, but has ever so gently weaned my Bavarian from Doritos. And I’ve grown as a cook and have learned to balance his love for the cheese with my desire to raise my family on healthy food; most of the time.

The change was gradual.

I bought plain tortilla chips.

Then, sometime between our third and fourth child, I discovered Costco’s big bag of Organic Tortilla Strips.

I added green bell peppers to the cutting board.

Then, I don’t know when, but somewhere in there the mound of diced veggies increased, and the mound of cheese decreased and now—now I can say the words, nachos and healthy in the same breath. I can!

Do you know how many anti-oxidants are in ½ bell pepper? A lot. And vitamin D, potassium, and selenium in mushrooms? They’re famous for these nutrients. Onions? More potassium, vitamin B6 and B1, copper—famous! Tomatoes? Everyone knows tomatoes are red-carpet walkers in vegetable isles. And, I admit to spreading enough garlic on the Organic Tortilla Strips to strip paint off the walls—but we don’t notice it, my Bavarian and me.

We call our date-on-the couch, “Nacho-Movie Night.”

We’ve come a long way.

It takes time to make adjustments; sometimes one meal at a time, one vegetable at a time. Make adjustments as best suits you and your family—without stress since stress causes things like Dorito bags open.

Make adjustments, too, remembering that you’ll be asking God to bless the food you’re about to eat.

He gives grace to eat healthfully, before we can say “grace.”

Sometimes His grace looks like a cutting board of beautiful veggies.

written by Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bread, with a small "b"

I'm as bread, with a small "b,"made in the image of the Bread of life.

"Jesus took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body'" (Matthew 26:26).

The loaf of bread on my kitchen counter isn't one I baked. I bought it from Costco and placed it in my bread pan. Baked like that, it's the closest thing to home-made without being the real deal. So there's my short-cut! It works for me in a pinch. It also reminds me that there is no short-cut to becoming the kind of bread that will be broken-will yield to the breaking.

I tear chunks from the loaf and confess, "Jesus, You are the Bread of life-of my life."

I rip the loaf to pieces. "You blessed the bread before You broke it."

"I was blessed to be broken and given." My hands pause over the cutting board. "When I came into the world," He clarifies by His own word what He just said, "I said to our Father, 'sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.'"

I know the verse. It's in Hebrews chapter ten. "Then You said," I know His response by heart, "Behold, I have come-in the volume of the book it is written of Me-to do Your will, O God.'"

We fall quiet at the cutting board, He and I, and all I can think is that there was no short-cut for Him. He came to do God's will; and while He was preparing to be the sacrifice, He was learning to be obedient in His flesh.

I find the verse. It's in Hebrews chapter five, half-way to chapter ten. I read of Him, that in the days of His flesh, though He was a Son, "yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him..."(Hebrews 5:5-9).

The bread is torn to shreds and scattered over the wooden cutting board, and I think of the Bread, torn to shreds-flogged-and displayed on another wooden board.

There is no short-cut to learning this kind of obedience, but there is blessing for it.

"Thank You, God, for taking me and blessing me." Really, I'm thanking Him for preparing a body for His Son; and likewise, for preparing a body for me. I'm fully blessed in Christ, and I'm part of His body.

There isn't a short-cut to forgiving, either. No short-cut to joy in the midst of mayhem, or to praise in the midst of pain, or to the kind of tender mercy given as equally as Jesus gave His bread to both disciples and to betrayer-but there is blessing for it all.

"You blessed the bread before You broke it. Bless me like that, today, Jesus." I bow over the bread on the cutting board, asking to be given this day the daily Bread and to become bread today, blessed to be broken and given.

"I have blessed you. Receive My blessing."

Ah, that's the hard part. It's hard to receive this blessing which equips me to be broken and given-even given to those who will hurt me; betray me. It's hard to receive this blessing which is established through the learning of obedience by the things which are suffered in the flesh. Yet, this blessing may be received in power, for the power that it is. It may be received as intended, and for its intended daily purpose.

I'm bread with a small "b."

If I wonder what my purpose is today-just today-I need only to know what Jesus' purpose is. Whatever it is for Him, that's what it is for me.

I think I hear Him whisper into my thoughts, "My tender mercies are over all My works, and all My works praise My name."

"Then," I venture brave, "thank You for this lil' bit of bread that I am, for I will break today and be given." Sometimes I say what is in my heart to say to Him without knowing how to count the cost. I can't possibly know the extent of the cost of a crumb of a blessing. As the song goes, "I'll never know how much it cost, to see my sin upon the cross," so goes my heart's beat, "Here I bow, give all to You; Lord, I want to be like You."
The cost? Jesus paid it all, and all to Him I owe.

The act of giving torn bread is, to me right now, what tender mercy must look like.

I venture further, "You gave the bread, Your body, to not only Your disciples but," my breath feels tight in my chest, "but also to Judas."

Sometimes I feel betrayed by those I give myself to. I'm feeling it right now, and just between Him and me and the cutting board I confess it. Then I realize that Judas played a major part in God's plan, and that was what I call a real big blessing in a real ugly disguise-and I realize that Jesus was okay with that. He was!

He didn't tell Judas not to do what he was about to do.

He didn't deny Judas a serving of His body.

I'm not okay with betrayal; though in this moment with this bread half-way between whole and broken, half-way between the cutting board and the serving plate-in this moment I am beginning to understand something beyond betrayal.

Maybe Jesus looked at Judas and silently thanked God for providing His betrayer who would, unwittingly, begin the chain of happy, though excruciating, events which would bring about the finished work of salvation, the last prayer Jesus would pray in the flesh till He returns, "Father, forgive them," the last words, "It is finished," and His return to His heavenly home.

Maybe He looked at Judas and was filled with the anticipation of going home, and with the joy of preparing a place for those who are, as his disciples were-bread, with a small "b."


Yeah, I'm as bread, with a small "b," and I'm also Blessed by the Bread. Two big "B's."

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Play-Dough in the Mixing Bowl

Equal parts flour, salt, water

A few drops food coloring. That's all. It's the recipe my mom followed to make play-dough and it's been passed down to me. Maybe my daughters will ask for it when they have toddlers in the Terrific Two's whose hands need many things to do. The family recipe makes real honest play-dough soft enough to be shaped by the hands of a child.

I'm a nanny this month to a baby boy who has my heart wrapped right around his whole little being. He's been crying today and this is what I told him: "You have the right to cry. Anything you cry out will be used to validate your right."

Then I said to myself, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used to give validation to his feelings and the freedom to express them."

He and I, we curled up into the soft fuzzy pillows and blankets in my oldest daughter's old bedroom, and 2 ounces of formula later this little one was snoring and milk was dripping from the corner of his O-shaped mouth.

"You are like a butterfly," I whispered to him. His lashes lay soft and long against his fair cheek. "Crying's not so bad." I say it ever softly, and wonder to myself if butterflies cry in their struggle to emerge from the cocoon.

"Butterfly tears," I hear the Father. He's curled up on the mattress with us.

We gaze at the tiny face, the sweaty dark hair, the drip of formula crusting in the corner of his mouth and, "He's struggling to move about freely, isn't that what he cries out?"

"He's getting stronger in the struggle," comes the reply.

I remember reading that a butterfly must struggle with all its strength as it works its way from the confining cocoon. It must. If it's helped out, told, "Hush now, little one" and not allowed to struggle, the butterfly with perish because of the rescue. The struggle moves the blood into the wings and strengthens the wings till the butterfly is strong enough to fly.

I ease myself off the mattress and tuck a sheet around his chubby hands now limp with rest. "Soon You'll be moving about, crawling and more." I kiss His head and tip-toe out.

I roll the blue dough with my favorite wooden roller. I don't know the family it came from, or if the mamma who owned it rolled out blue play-dough. I found it in an antique shop along with my favorite wooden spoon. All I know is that it's been passed down, to me. And I know the value of things passed down. Somehow such things have helped shape me.

A play-dough mobile. I make it while he sleeps. He'll like watching the free moving shapes.

I don't have a butterfly cookie cutter, but I do have hearts and bunnies, a rhinosaurus, a chick, and a star.

"Father?" I press the cutters into the dough.


"Am I soft like this dough?" I want to be. I want to be soft beneath His press-impressionable and easily shaped by Him. I want to hear His validation, and there's something validating about making play-dough.

"You are made from My finest grain to become as bread," He speaks so.

I press out a heart shape.

"You are made from the salt of my words." I know what He means by this. His words are mine to live by and to share. They are salt.

I press out a rhinosaurus shape.

"You are made from My living water." His Spirit speaks truest validation to me-His validation is mine.

"And what color am I?" A friend once told me that she sees me as a bright and shimmery green.

"Pure." It's the color of grace.

I need it, validation.

We all need it, the real honest validation. Not violation.

The truth validates. It's valid, no matter what.

"Show me, Father of truth and eternal validation, who I may validate today." I think of my husband, my children and their spouses, my niece and my sister.

I continue, "You've spoken validating words to me, just now with the play-dough. Speak then through me, that others may hear them as I have heard them."

"Speak My words. They are valid and bring validation." I hear what He's saying and remember something else He's said about the truth. It sets us free.

The truth sets us free.

"I'll speak Your truth in the freedom You've given me, Lord." I say the word, Freedom, under my breath, and then venture in the Spirit of freedom and truth, "Lord."

He listens.

"Where there's been violation, I'll forgive." Forgiveness is true validation and freedom.

Twine, scissors, a coat hanger. I begin making the mobile. The blue rhinosaurus spins on twine.

I'm happy to be as play-dough.

Honesty, validity, freedom, forgiveness. This is what my Father, the Ancient one, passes down to me. And to you.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig
If you like this, you'll love her books!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pots 'n' Pans and the Kitchen Sink

Welcome to my kitchen!

Pull up a chair and choose a tea cup from the curio, or if you prefer, there's coffee in the bright red coffee maker situated between the bright red blender and the bright red Kitchen Aide. Yeah, I like red in my kitchen. It's cheerful and warm, and does something for the appetite.

There's no telling what will happen in my kitchen, but it's nearly always something good. oh, I've been known to forget the meat-filled taco shells under the broiler, and I've tossed a few handfuls of baking soda into my oven when things like that catch fire, but for the most part my kitchen is where conversations have grown up with the children and where savory fragrances all spicy Chipotle or smokey Mesquite, yeasty breads, sweet chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies, mouth-watering veggie sautes, basil picked fresh from the summer garden and minced till the sharp scent just lifts off the cutting board, onion and garlic and roasts a la oven or crock pot sputter, sizzle, bake, rise, and feed family and home with food for body and soul.

A million meals have been prepared in my kitchen. Some plates have broken, glasses chipped, and the sink's been filled with hot sudsy water nearly every day of it's life. Both ovens have been filled with holiday foods for all 20+ of us aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and cousins, or sometimes filled with just enough pizza for our family of six. On most every Friday for the past 26 years my oven's baked up to two cookie sheets of not your normal nachos while a movie is voted on. Laughter has danced the two-step across my kitchen floor and I'm sure that's why the tiles are cracked. Sure there's been some stomping, too. And some tears. And some raised voices. And, well, there's been some life in my kitchen. And that's why there's no telling what will happen in my kitchen. Life is unpredictable like that.

Pots 'n' Pans and the Kitchen Sink is where you'll find just that, a hodge-podge of everything from whatever life dishes up. I'll share recipes with you, of course, along with various ingredients that make life full of love, joy, and peace and other spiritual fruits. Sometimes what I share will read like a tossed salad. There's just no telling!

What's for dinner tonight? LEFTOVER ENCHILADA SOUP!
Not as in leftover soup that is enchilada soup, but leftover enchiladas turned into soup. I'm big on reinventing leftovers!

Leftover Enchilada Soup

*Thinly Slice 1/2 Onion
*Sauté in a tad-bit of Coconut Oil with about 1/4 cup fire-roasted tomatoes and any other leftover veggies you find in your fridge.

*Organic Chicken Broth
*Organic Tomato Sauce
*Cumin and Garlic Powder to taste
*Slice the leftover enchiladas
(I had leftover black beans in my fridge, so I added them)


That's it! Easy. Tasty. And now I have room in my fridge! 😊

Salad dressing-
A couple splashes Lemon juice
Olive Oil
Other Spices to taste...I use a pinch of brown sugar if I've sliced apples and added Craisins to the salad; and if I'm serving the salad with a spicier dish, I might add a shake or two of mesquite seasoning.
(I've added to my salad some of the first tomatoes from my garden!!)