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Thursday, August 29, 2013


It’s just a sign scrawled unpolished and unprofessional on cardboard, and hung askew like a ”Come On In” sign in the friendly window of a weathered and well used country general store. It’s this kind of sign, the kind imperfect, that tells of the good business that Christ is doing inside, in me, because “Come On In” is swinging on the smudged glass door of my life. The steps leading up to the door are worn to the shape of His sandals. Sign swings with door swing and I know it’s Him. He’s coming on in to ask me today if I have a five pound bag of wheat flour, knowing that I don’t.

“And some honey?” He asks with an amused look in His eye.

“Yeast and oil?” Is that sheer delight I detect in His expression?  

He doesn’t need it. I do and He knows I do and He’s getting it for me. It’s His business in me, and He’s making preparations so that I have everything I need to do it. It’s a good work He’s planned. A something-somehow work is what it will look like when I get in elbow deep.

I dissolve honey in a bowl of very warm water and add yeast. I watch it sit and feed on the honey, bubble, foam, expand alive and warm in the bowl and I bend over waving my hand to stir the yeasty fragrance up to my nose. Inhale the scent of what’s living right there in bowl, already rising, to take the grain into its life for purpose prepared. The good work has begun and I dip my finger into the honey. Taste it.

Jesus is sweet nourish and I expand alive tasting.

Flour and salt are measured. I’m in a hurry today and sadly deny myself the pleasure of hand-kneading the dough until it’s elastic and smooth and my hands carry the yeasty warm fragrance I love so much. I flip the switch with a tad too much vigor and whirling dough hook sends flour dust everywhere. I’m covered. The counter is covered. The dog at my feet jumps up and chases flour dust settling through sun stream. Whatever good and perfect work Jesus has planned for me to do will most always look like a something- somehow never-mind-me kind of work. I promise!

And I don’t mind. I’ve decided it’s best not to because the alternative…minding the dust while it settles…is an exercise in frustration. So I don’t mind as I make slow progress and it comes to me that this is what it’s all about. It’s the something-somehow process of a good work that Jesus comes in to do.

He’s worn a path to my front door. And when we walk it together, me throwing flour all over kingdom, let’s just say the path isn’t paved and assured knowing exactly where it’s going and what it’s all about. It’s more like a winding dirt road suited to slow travel and worn shoes that don’t mind kicking up dust and my feet in those shoes not minding.

Not minding looking like I really don’t know what I’m doing, but doing something good anyway. Not minding that I clearly don’t know exactly how to go about it, but going about it somehow. Something-somehow.

Brushing flour dust off my face, what thing I know for certain is that the old road to Emmaus was fit for dusty feet in worn shoes and two travelers who really didn’t know what the walk was all about, but One travelling companion who did and He knows what this is all about too. It was about their walk with Him. And it’s still about that.

The loaves are in oven and my kitchen smells divine. I fill bowl with hot soapy water and drop dough hook in. Suds spray up and apart and it’s time to listen

“What’s this all about, Lord? The honey, oil, flour and yeast. The flour dust. And why did You want to talk about Emmaus?”

It’s time to listen.

“It’s about three-day old bread resurrected and served fresh. It’s about Living Bread rising in you while I open My word and ignite your heart until it burns within you. It’s about opening the door of your oven-like heart and My essence wafting from there. About presenting the loaf to others and serving Me to them. Fresh.”

Hmmm. I have pulled the loaves out. I slice the bread thick and hold it steaming fragrant to my nose. How can I resist? I don’t want to. And that’s what it’s about.

“He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them” (Luke 24:30). I hold it in my open hands. He serves the bread, His body. I don’t want to resist. I want this Bread.

And I serve this bread to my family at table because it’s about being served His body and serving His body. About knowing Him in the breaking of bread. About faith and serving. About faith Jesus had in His Father and saving work on the cross because of it. About “I will show you my faith by my works” (Ja. 2:18).

It’s about communing with Him and serving as He served. Sacrificially. Himself. Myself. Presenting myself a living sacrifice. Sweet, bubbling alive, fragrant offering.

And it’s always still about my walk with Jesus. In the kitchen not minding flour dust all over hands and apron front, and serving God’s risen love to others. About something good, somehow done.

He walks with me and I don’t always know it, exactly. But when I listen like the two travelers on the old Emmaus road, I eventually know Him in the bread.

There may be a lot of dusty flour stirred up, but at table with family I may  say as the Emmaus travelers said, “The Lord is risen, indeed!” and tell them the things that He has done. The things that happened on the road. In my kitchen. At table. In communion with Him. My testimony. His testimony. And how I knew Him in the bread.


written by: Carolyn Roehrig



Monday, August 26, 2013

Moon Struck Worship

The moon opens its eyes full and skitters light slippered feet over the resting water. Dancing and casting. And our boat dances on the surface water sway. The anchor is cast deep.

Secured in the cast, and happy in the nod-roll slap-swoosh thrum against the hull, I anchor rolling cucumber to cutting board and slice. Crisp, round as the moon full on the plate. Next, green pepper. Halved, seeded, sliced lengthwise. Slightly curved slivers of crescent moon. The boat rolls a mite off beat. A staccato wave. My rhythm’s thrown, but I balance the plates wobbley and hand them up from galley to deck. Thank-you’s, smiles, sharing, and more laughter. Barefoot, hungry, happy. My family. And warm breeze picks up lake scent mingling, organic, green. Alive.

We feed each other full. We eat full. We find our rhythm on the water. Find the man-in-the-moon, and find awe in his own celestial dance with her full. Full. And I want to be the moon to my man. Embrace him full, and dance. I keep these thoughts to myself. Silent cadence. My heart throb. Mystery and miracle entwined.

We find. More awe. The moon casts a line that anchors the oceans themselves. She casts and hooks weighty water and wave and holds it to shore. She plays the casted line like Moby Dick and his whale; like a sun-baked fisherman plays his behemoth on the hook, and lands it. And Moon and Man in it sun-baked, cast and hook and land tides, seasons, night moods.

My husband swishes the chili pot off the swim platform. Dips it through the moon lit surface, beneath where it’s dark, and lifts it up full. Moon’s light slippered feet are standing in my chili pot. My eyes walk the moon trail from the pot at anchored stern to the end of this hemisphere. Rippled moon, white gold light laid down across night water.

And isn’t this it? What’s needed? Light laid down? Light laid across dark nights and deep water times? Across wheel chair pain. Across lupus and cancer. Across addiction and mental illness, heartsickness and homelessness? A-cross? Yes. It’s needed.

Jesus did this. He cast His glory line, made Himself bait on cross with nail, and hooked sin itself-wily, evasive, restless, tossing and breaking over earth and me....this sin...and landed it in hell. Jesus is light laid down across all darkness.

“I am the light of the world,” He says. (John 8:12). And, “In the beginning…In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness…” (John 1:1,4-5 emphasis mine). And, “Let there be light,” first God-speech recorded, and darkness was divided. The moon itself, night’s light, was divided, amazed I’m sure. Halved. The light side facing us and the back-side turned away.

I look up into that light shadow hanging above and wonder, “Why? Why half light when darkness invades?” I wonder enough to google the moon and read that really just three percent sun power touches moon. Three percent sun on moon. Four percent and we’d stumble, glory blinded, and perish. And the stars would close their eyes. Two percent and it would be like seeing the back-side of the moon. And the Creator moves the heavens and this earth to make sure that never happens. Three percent sun shines and reflects off dark hard moon and God’s back-side glory passes across soul, because even Moses could only see the back-side of God’s glory and still live to tell about it and the moon has no light of its own and neither do I.
Moon lays her glory down and crosses the lake to reach me deep and God lays His glory down and crosses my soul to reach me deep. The thought rests long and grateful and stays with me.

And I worship.

My heart searches for thank-you speech and finds what my tongue doesn’t know how to pronounce. Finds it looking out across the moon lit water and up to into the night heavens. Silent, articulate night sky gives speech full when I have no words. I give thanks under the sun, but in night under the moon, it’s just quietly there. Night season thank-you’s.

And I worship.

Awe and wonder and mystery. A pot full of moon. A cosmos full of moon. What do I call this? Moon-struck worship? Crazy worship? Of the Creator who is giving me the moon? Who is filling dark empty pots at the stern of this vessel, the back-side of my soul, with light full? Who is loving me this sacred barefoot night of sliced cucumbers and bell peppers and chili pots; of lines and anchors and casting and dancing?

Yes. I call it crazy worship. My name for this mystery. And I’m full.


written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Friday, August 23, 2013

Paint and Pearls

I carry a used can of oil-based paint up the stairs for the doors. There are four of them. Two bedroom, one bathroom, and one linen closet. White paint. A nice compliment to the apricot-cream sweetening the walls. I dip the bristle brush in, praying that I won’t make a mess of this, and lift the brush in one long, steady stroke of concentration.  I stay with the grain and it swallows and the paint seeps deep. And I think about doors.

I have a door. It yawns on its hinges, ajar. Uncertain about being closed. Uncomfortable about being open. And most of the time I don’t know what to do with it. But one time I did. I opened it. And open it stood. Committed. Certain. Awake. And my soul was introduced to Life. To Life that was wounded to death and raised up again that I might know life. Jesus.

Life folded His fingers over the palm wound, and knocked on my door. A pierced hand; a scarred fist. The hard pounding at the cross echoed gentle at my door. The knock.  

That was over half a lifetime ago, and somehow my door yawns ajar again. Languishing. Dispirited, I languish there, too. Soul faint. Fearing pain. Soul-eyes half closed; door half cracked in the yawn. Ignore the wounds of life. Or try.
Yet, Life was wounded, and so is all of life walking on this earth. But, oh how precious costly those wounds. His, and ours too. Eternally dear.

Sometimes I forget this, but I am remembering, now, while drawing the brush down the door to soak it thirsty in paint. The bristles drink it up, refreshed, and so does the door. I reach for my water bottle, thirsty too. I swallow and it seeps deep into the grain. Into my heart and soul door grain. I swallow again and realize that I cannot close the door. Not the one in front of me, or it will dry stuck closed. Not the one hinged on my heart I opened to Jesus. And the third cannot be closed. It stands wide as light open.

I open all wide.

Bowed over paint tray on the bath-towel drop cloth, I think about the one that never closes.  What do I know about this door? It’s one gate out of twelve. It’s set in a great and high wall of jasper, clear as crystal the glory of God. It’s the entrance to His throne. Life stands in the midst of the throne looking every bit the Lamb that was slain. And it’s breathtaking to admire Him in the glimpse the typed words offer on the page of scripture, open, before me. Ah, and there’s the fourth door. The Holy Word, open.

I also know this; each one of the twelve is made of one pearl. Twelve pearls formed as pearls are. By irritants. By pains behind the shell wall. Enormous pearls, formed because of unspeakable wounding pain, from beginning to end, to fit the great and high wall.

I don’t want to languish behind a yawning door, wounded and too faint to feel pearl-forming pain. If I don’t let myself feel it, there will be no pearl. If I feel little, the pearl will be small. If I let what irritates, what pains, wound; feel the reefs and barriers and scrape past the corals; feel the dive down ocean leagues deep, daring to keep open the door Jesus knocked on, there will be pearl.

I do dare. My mind bends hard to think this way. It hurts. The bristley brush has rubbed me raw and the grain has swallowed the paint. 

I carry paint can, tray, brush down the stairs. Hammer the lid down, toss the tray and now the brush drinks up acetone. And I give thanks. No acetone! The blood of Christ! And I give thanks. There He stands. See His scars. And I give thanks. See through the open door no more pain. See past the pearl no more tears. And I give thanks.

Could it be, I wonder as I swish and press the bristles at the sink, that on the other side of each gate there will be no more tears or pain because they have been swallowed by pearl? Held deep in pearl heart?

And I give thanks.

I will open my door wide awake. Feel. Turn it all into thanksgiving. Pearls are formed like that.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig






Saturday, August 17, 2013

I Am Your Wall

I've been painting walls. One stroke of the roller saturated with apricot-cream, and the wear and tear of the past fourteen years vanishes.

And I wish it was that easy.

I have built a wall. Well, not one. It feels like four walls with a tiny back door closed against what hurts. So why do I keep finding them like dust bunnies gathered in the corners of my space? I built this wall to keep them out. On the other side.

"What are they doing in here?" I ask myself. "How did they get in?" I puzzle over that, roller poised and dripping, knowing that covering a dingy wall with a fresh coat isn't the answer. "Do the walls need to come down? Should I be swinging a demolition ball, not holding a paint roller?" I consider this, and conclude, "No."

For all the wonder of life, life is wounding. Protection is wise. Freedom is necessary.

Balancing on the top step of my ladder, I stretch the roller toward the top of the wall and glide it carefully along the ceiling seam. Life. Wounds. Protection. Freedom. And somehow in the upward reach because apricot-cream is more desirable than what was there, I think about another upward reach. Not for something called apricot-cream, but another fruit. In the garden. Why were they reaching? Was it because they were being wounded? Darted with doubt and daggered with discontent...and they forgot about all they had to be thankful for? 

And ever since Eden we've been reaching.

At the top of the ladder I wonder about my wall. Not the one I'm painting, but the other one. What if I remembered to be thankful in all things when I first heard the dart hissing toward me like a snake's tongue; felt the dagger bite? What if I looked at the situation, couldn't find a reason compelling enough to say "thank you,"... but looked at God, and did? Well, the bite would have been nothing more. Just a snake bite that felt like a dagger. But they didn't remember this in the garden, and neither do I.

The bite festers for lack of thanksgiving. And weeps. It weeps with resentment, anger, bitterness, discontent. These are the real wounds. They didn't get in through the back door. They got in through discontentment that was already there. And the wall that goes up keeps it all in, not out. A wall of wounds is no protection for the wounded. But the way to stop hurting is to start saying, "thank you." This stops the weeping.

I stand back to admire the freshly painted wall in front of me and start thanking God and saying, "Help" at the same time. I kneel on the splattered painter's cloth, an old bath towel. I hold the roller out over it and offer it to Jesus... a silent faith plea. I want Him to  take the roller and soak it in the tray until it's dripping glory heavy with jasper-stone-clear-as-crystal. No egg-shell gloss, but the Lamb-is-it's-light shine. And I want Him to raise that roller and erase the marks and scuffs, the bruises and holes...the weeping... one brilliant stroke.

I look up at the ceiling, not the one with a smudge of apricot-cream on it, but the one smudged with swirling galaxies. A brilliant stroke I'm held beneath. Covered. A hint of His glory. And the variegated atmospheric walls sometimes clear as crystal, sometimes opaque with humid air, sometimes shimmering with liquid diamonds falling from a quarry of clouds, or dancing with wind...a great and high wall, keeping me on this earth. Adorned.

And I'm on my knees. My t-shirt is smudged with paint. But what's that I hear?

"You are My bride. I am Your wall."

Yes, I heard it in the whispery sound that a saturated roller makes.

I'm soaking my roller with thanksgiving today.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Courage To Give Thanks

"Thank you for this bread," Jesus said. "Thank you for this cup." It was the last supper, and the thank you's were supernatural. They were not the words one would expect to hear in the context of His body soon to be consumed as the bread, broken and given to His disciples. Or of His blood soon to be poured out as He poured the fruit of the vine into the cup for them to drink. Not in the context of planned betrayals, certain denials, murderous plots, and crucifixion. Neither would a song, a hymn not a dirge, be expected after all that. And coming from the lips of the one whose body and blood it would be?

And what about His disciples? Jesus had told them what was going to happen to Him...and why. One might have expected a thank you from them. A "Thank You for shedding Your blood for the remission of our sins!" But grave sorrows cast shadows, and the shadows were deep that night. Night shadows crept across the table and Thank-You may have been whispering it's name in the shadows, but could not be heard.

Yet, oh, had Sorrow and Shadow not muffled Thank-You, would they not have seen a finger of light pointing across the table to Jesus? Dividing the light from the darkness? The day from the night? Life from death? Righteousness from sin? Blood from blood? Covenant from covenant? Dividing, like a sword,  soul and spirit, joints and marrow, thoughts and intents of the heart?" Would they not have seen in this very night "of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death" (Hebrews 5:7), Jesus? And linked arms with Thank-You and called out it's name when Jesus told them, "You will be scattered. But I will be raised and I'll meet you in Galilee when this is all over"?

"Thank-You is right there!" I want to call out to them. But they don't hear.

They say, "No! No we will not be scattered! We will not be made to stumble! Even if we have to die with You, we will not!"

"Y'all aren't making any sense!" I cry out. "How do you expect to meet Him on the shores of Galilee when He's raised, if you are dead?!?"

Well, indeed. Easy to say from the side-lines, but I've been in the fray with them. And it breaks my heart to hear my own voice in the reverberations of theirs. And I don't want to hear my voice with theirs. I want, oh Jesus I want, to hear my voice harmonizing, courageously with Yours. In the hymn.

Jesus has dipped His hand into the core center of my heart and brought to the table what is ripe in me. Fear that makes my blood run icy. Anger that makes my blood run hot. That "No! I'm above doing that, God!", self-righteousness. Insecurity that  leaves me hyper-sensitive. Pain that numbs all feeling. And, yes, an ingrate before the last strain of the hymn leaves my lips.

Scattered. In a wilderness of my own. Wanting to go back to that table. To take the bread. Drink the cup. All in remembrance of Him.

And to say thank You.

Then I want to sing the hymn, in my  wilderness place.

Remember the disciples.

Remember Sorrow and Shadow and then...

Link arms with Thank-You and call out it's name...

And head for the shore where Jesus will be waiting.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Jesus Gave Thanks

"What's the worst thing that could happen?" It's a question meant to give perspective and ease our worries. "It's not as bad as it seems." Most often it's not. But, is. Sometimes it is as bad as it seemed it could be. The flesh and bones tough stuff worse than we could have imagined. But is this so bad? "No," I dare say, while my own  flesh pulls away from the answer. Still, in the spirit I say "no" for my flesh to hear. "It's not as bad as it seems." At least, it doesn't have to be. Because of two divine words, "Thank you."

"And as they were eating, Jesus took the bread, and gave thanks....Then He took the cup, and gave thanks..." (Matthew 26:26-27). He gave His disciples something to chew on while they were still swallowing what tasted of betrayal. Swallowing the "Is it I" insecurity and sorrow. "Am I capable of betraying You?" Each one asked it. "I dipped my hand into the dish with You!"

I get the feeling Jesus was reaching His hand into other dishes. Clay pots sitting around the table. It's what He does. He dips His hand into the very core of our hearts. And what's in the core? Seeds. They've been there since Eden. "Did God really say...?" Doubt. "Is He withholding the best from you?" Discontent. "Maybe He's not as good as you thought." The seeds were planted and unthankfulness took root.

Jesus has a way of peeling back the layers, getting to the core and bringing to the table what is there. What we are capable of. What is ripe in us. He placed it on the table in front of His disciples. He would be betrayed by one, denied by the others, stricken by the sin of all, and all scattered because of this. He knew what was coming. He knew, too, what the worst thing was that could happen, and it was not that He would be crucified while He was still in His body attatched to every nerve and cell; and it was not that His Father was going to forsake Him. The worst thing that could happen was not even that He would take upon Himself the sins of the world, become sin for us, and descend into hell for three days. Certainly this all was worse than He could have imagined while He reached for the bread and cup at the table. Worse than He imagined when in His distress sweat poured like blood; when He fell on His face prostrated by sorrow. And when He prayed, "Oh. My. Father. If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me."

He could have called down more than twelve legions of angels, and rescued Himself. Could have picked up the cup, then set it down and said, "No, thank you." That would have been the worst thing that could have happened.

But, no..."A body You have prepared for Me," He said when He came into this wild world that I am in. "Thank You for this bread." Heart-stopping words. "I have come to do Your will. Thank You for this cup," poured out of His mouth. Thanksgiving broke and spilled at the table. It preceded His passion, punctured the cross before the nails pierced, and was what punctuated His last words, "Forgive them, Father."

It takes courage to say "Thank you." And love. It is a word that reaches long across sorrow, grief,insecurity, fear, pain, even sin and death. It is a wilderness word that I am learning to pronounce. An exhaled sacrifice I am learning to breathe. It asks nothing. Only accepts. He said, "Thank you," and rescued us. Even the likes of seedy me.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig