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