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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Debris Made Beautiful

Matter heaved out beneath the Milky Way last night, and glory slid down black sky on liquid gold ray. White hot and somehow green. Just so large and low on lake horizon. Just so fleeting. And only just half caught, half seen between blinks and turn of head. Glory deserving loudest sonic boom and every star trumpeting its exit from the night sky.

But this, this perplexing silence, fits awe.

Glory brilliant trails debris made beautiful in the burn. Most awe-full silence without even a gasp.

I see it.

I feel it.

I hope it.

That is, for debris somehow made beautiful as it burns away and is heaved out. Flung and glory trailed. Even at the same time.

My heart is mapped for this. I think to myself thoughts charted in the Word. Chartered by God. And there rises from the wet depths of my heart this Word. I have found the “You Are Here” marker.

At the beginning. Again.  

Where God thought “light” before He spoke the word and before darkness knew what would pierce it.


Where Love came down from Heaven and was seared white hot through with nails to know what sears through me, and sympathize.

And where there is mighty heave of heart. His and mine.

Mine heaves broken trust. Deferred hope. Scattered faith. Or tries. Rocky debris all massed in my heart.

How do I stop this spin that makes my heart so heavy? This cyclical reminder of why trust, hope, faith are so scattered in me?

I don’t. I can’t.

I lean back on nodding, bowing boat seat. And Word leans long light across my soul, “Trust Me with all your heart…”

I nod and bow.

“…and lean not on your own understanding…”

And the Milky Way leans halo over me.

“…in all your ways acknowledge Me…”

Faint pathway above. Spilled milk across galaxy floor.

…”and I shall direct your paths.”
(ref. Proverbs 3:5)

Glow coming from somewhere past. Going to where I don’t know.

My heart hears, but doesn’t understand it very well. Could it be because I start with what heaves out of my heart and not His? Start with the evidence I keep colliding with? A cloud of debris I spin through, and not with evidence filling all that spins and leans across the universe and earth while Living Water and I bob beneath it all?

He heaves glory. Again, I saw it burn down across sky. Glory comes over my rock heavy heart silently and in marvelous display. Glory fire burns up rock.

I saw it.

Saw it burn.

Consuming glory.

Holy heave.

What can I say? “Lift me up, Lord.”

And the lift is in the heave. In the humbling of vast me. And, yes, what starts in my heart must be touched by His white hot glory. And flung as far as the east is from the west.

Flung as far as the cloud surrounding the solar system is from Lake Texoma where I float on Living Water. Where waves lap her hull and where I bow before God.


Milky Way disappears in moon light. No more fire skids across the sky. But glory is blazing trail across my soul tonight.

I’m bowing.

“You are guiding me tonight,” I awe.

“I receive you to My glory,” His Word swallows me up.

“Whom have I in heaven but You?” I simply awe again. “And there is none on earth that I desire besides You," I breath ragged.  "My flesh and my heart fail broken. Deferred. Scattered,” I heave it all out there.

“I am the strength of your heart,” burns white hot Word.

And there it is. Debris made beautiful, heart engulfed in fire that burns in glory.

“It is good for me to draw near to You, God.”
(ref. Psalm 73:24-26,28)

I’m still bowing.


written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Yellow Therapy Dog

Something about the perfectly still leaves above me this evening. It’s a late night for yellow dog and me. I brought her home from the pound four months ago as a therapy dog. Not for me.

Not for me?? No. I’m just the one who has trained her to sit, lay, stay, heel, come. And to curb her retriever enthusiasm enough to walk lady like through the back door after adrenaline pumping squirrel chases. And to greet guests at front door politely. No jumping and romping with them as if they were a litter of puppies come to visit her.

I am also the one who greets her in the morning and waits for her beneath limb and leaf, living canopy and fluttering veil. Breathing in air morning fresh and night charged. Feeling on skin first light, night light, air breathing sleepy or panting fast in wind chase. Or held.

Pieces of the moon are framed tonight. Fragments displayed twiggy and leafy. Yellow dog disappears in shadows on far side of fence. I squint through the darkness then peer, searching framed moon. Really I’m not sure why. But my heart is responding to something. And I want to know, before God and moon, what it is. What is empty frame inside me? I hold my breath and talk to God. Is He holding His breath, too? He Who is so full??

And there is quiet glow. Framed light fractioned out above me and quilting the lawn. Patches of moon shadow-stitched. It’s bed time, but I’m not ready to pull the covers up. Something in me is waking up.

Still as all is, the air vibrates alive. Katydids sing burry, wings strum and shake out ch-ch-ch rhythm. Obby-hummy whirr thrums long and legato frog song. I close my eyes and let it all wash serenade and peace-song over me.

A pastor once overlaid sound tracks of stars humming, trees clapping, insect song and whale song. My youngest daughter heard it on u-tube after school. Amazed. I had wanted to listen to it myself.

And I am. Right now. All is orchestra praise beneath my tree.

I fill my lungs with air and sound and stillness and vibration. Pieces of moon fit my heart. A fragmented mural of frames. Scenes from the past. Thoughts, memories, feelings.

And it makes no sense to me that though I know the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, the shadows have been stitched into a quilt fit for my soul to rest beneath, I don’t feel it. My nerve endings remember currents shocking before they remember soft touches. My emotions still pound out adrenaline before I can think straight. Dis-eased past infects before I can get out the ointment. My heart still beats out cacophony at the first down-beat by memory before it can hear the melody. But here it is. All long thrum and rhythmic strum. Hush, burr, and vibration.

And I will my heart to memorize this song.

And there it is. Something in the stillness to do with memories. Ohh…

“Help me, God,” I whisper low on paved patio where I hear the song, “Help me to remember what to remember and to remember what to forget.”

The answer came as the question fell up into the night praise. It came in pieces.



as frames…

or joy.

Count them and you will be counting joy where you thought there was none.”
(ref. James 1:2)

Beautiful frame.


give thanks…

at the remembrance,

yes…at the remembrance…

Of My Holy Name.”
(ref. Psalm 30:4)

It’s not a pep talk.

It doesn’t come easy.

It’s shadow-stitched. Framed in fragments.

Right now is moon in still frames. Night glow captured and shadow-stitched, and patched in soft quilt spread over backyard grass. If I lay down in the grass, this moon cast quilt would cover me. I would be covered in patchwork of moonlight. Patchwork. Shadow-stitch.

And at patio edge I am at edge of awe. It is laid out before me right there on my lawn. And I would see it again covering garden floor outside my kitchen window. And again cast over wood wall of fence, and trunk and stone path and patio. Sun cast. Rippling in the wind as if clipped to a clothes line, drying out from night dew. It’s the same quilt. Light patches shadow stitched.

I pick up sponge at sink today, seeing quilt through the window. Sponge expands in my hand beneath faucet flow. And fills it. And what is this familiar feeling? My heart knows it. Heart has held it in hand. Heavy memories. Soaked sponge. Sopping up light. I squeeze sponge hard.

I hang my heart out on the line. Clip it there til dewy pain that cried in the night, dries. Let it flutter its rhythm there til damp shadows pull back. Til past and present “whenever” all sorts of “whatever” trials, recede. Become only frame. Only stitch. Only reference for light.

Isn’t that what shadows are? Wasn’t the cross wooden frame displaying the Light of the world? Doesn’t the cross shadow stitch together mourning and dancing? Patchwork weeping to joy? Pain to healing? Trials to faith? Past to present? Death to life?

I’m seeing it everywhere now. It is the pattern cast over all earth from heaven, all time from eternity, all galaxie-spun universe from Quilter’s hand. And what about this? Quilter’s hand has stitched in my small brain as many neurons as stars in the Milky Way. And whatever memories are shadow, they are stitched to display light patch worked. And what memories are pin pricks of star, let me remember that some stars are trillions of miles in diameter. It’s all fluttering alive quilt billowing over me.

And it is kind soul therapy for me. Simply that. The moon is kind light in darkness. The squeezing is kind. Heart hanging out to dry, sun cast shadow, quilt, frame.


I pray the word, “Kind.” Repentant-like.

I climb beneath quilt beside my husband. Heart full of kind. And repentance.

I fall asleep while my heart finds frame for “kind.” And it is being framed.
In fragments to fit my heart.

But something else is happening with this. Another frame. Because “kind” is collaged with “joy.” It can’t be helped. Joy is the canvas and music of God’s heart. It is all living art, mural, collage, sound tracks, full orchestra and song.

And oh, I am reaching long across His theraputic heart. All God heart framed in cross. Light nailed down. Cross shadow. Quilted long stitches running through past. Needling and pricking through present. Stitching needle. Piercing nail. Quilt. Frame. I reach to pull it all up over.

And I settle here remembering to give thanks at the remembrance of His Holy name. I might forget tomorrow. Probably will. But the quilt is always outside my window and beneath tree. And the cross has never stopped framing the Light.

He is answering my prayer. Framing light. Stitching light. Cross and quilt. And, yes, even yellow therapy dog. For me after all. 

written by: Carolyn Roehrig



Sunday, September 15, 2013

September Watermelon

September watermelon. Those two words don’t belong in the same breath, but there it is, remnant ripe on my kitchen counter. Old summer habit.
 I heft the melon from bin to cart and roll summer through Kroger isles to the checkout lane. I forgot my “earth friendly” shopping bags, again, so all but watermelon is bagged in plastic. I know the young man bagging. But summer can’t be bagged. Not even in September. So he places my September watermelon in the child seat at front of cart.

Seasons roll in on wobbley wheels, and vibrate out metal racket on lot pavement, and the young man and I raise our voices slightly to converse. We are acquainted by years of summer-to-summer seasons between pushing cranky carts through blistering three-digit heat and over ice in between. He has a stutter that makes him lonely and a mind that slows and, like me, he lives a tad out of season, too. He loves the sweet, thirst quenching taste of summer. He loves the hot air balloon festival each September. And he likes the two together.

September watermelon. Remnant of summer. The last hurrah. I want to slice the watermelon right there in parking lot. Break open summer for the last time this year and share it with him. And celebrate, too, his simple love for the One who made watermelon, summer, September and who understands stuttered prayer.

We would sink our teeth into thick melon slice, wear the rindy smile, juice dripping down the chin and for a moment summer would not be back road rounding a bend and we would celebrate it all and celebrate Him who is sweet as cold watermelon on a thirsty day. Not the kind without seeds, but with seeds. The kind that plants more sweet goodness and tomorrow promises.

He sets watermelon in the back end of my minivan and I drive, slow, the back road home. I carry summer in arms that aren’t ready to embrace what comes next. The rumble of the unknown that doesn’t take the back road slow, but accelerates and is in my driveway before I know what season I’m in.



Watermelon in Shopping Cart

I set my watermelon careful on kitchen counter. I own it. And there it balances, yellow spot off center at backside. I picked it out from all the others in the cardboard bin because of that yellow spot. I don’t thump melons in choosing. I look for the yellow spot. One clearly defined spot. One mark saying, “I have been unmoved.”

And I can’t be moved because, by God's help, I don’t want to be. Because life is all messed up in the muddy patches, all tangled up in devil’s vine and taking in its poison. And because I am one with my husband and my own blood and water lay claim to two daughters and two sons and the blood and water of the Son of God lays claim on me and I’m too worn out restless to do anything but ripen on my knees.

I don’t even know when it happens, the ripening. All I know is that my knees hurt and I think about going to the garden isle at Home Depot to buy knee pads, but remember there’s a spare life preserver in the garage from the boat. God laughed delighted, I am sure, while I rummaged for it. He cannot contain His smile sitting beside me, me stuttering prayer for life on this bright yellow patch of preserver.

I keep praying. Praying…praying. Reading Holy Scripture, out loud intercession, eyes fixed on the Word in front of me until it is all enmeshed inside of me behind the rind of my soul and impregnating my heart with its seed.

I have been unmoved. I have been unmoved on my own patch of earth. On throw rug at foot of bed. On knees marked. Pressure spots. Yellow spot bearing my weight while I ripen on vine beneath Son. Morning hours, high noon, days, months, years. Ripening…ripening.

I still kneel here and crack open the heart of God. His Word. Scripture page spread open before my face, all reflective sheet magnifying bright Son glory. Intensive. All God-image, God-heart, sharp sword. I pray it all out, His heart with mine, and feel the cut.

It has gotten into me, the Word. Lancing life in this patch where I ripen.

And the vine conducts His very own life into my spirit-vein, marrow and heart.

May I be full of joy, now!

“Moreover let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

Patient and unswerving endurance...All yellow spot.

“And endurance develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity)” (Ro. 5:4).


Faith approved and integrity tried. Words heavy ripe. Fleshed out where I sit on my patch of earth. Where sword glints God-image and penetrates rind to the dividing line of the breath of life and immortal spirit.

     “Japanese farmer grows first heart-shaped watermelon in the world.”

                                   -Japan Daily Press

I gasp on the vine where water runs thick as blood and I am one flesh with husband and children and rooted like that to this patch of life. I am not restless as before.  I am ripening. Learning to count joy, to enter rest, to faith-lean.

And the Word penetrates the deepest part of my nature. Cracks it open. And the seeds lodged in my heart strain out in sticky red flow. My heart intents exposed, and His heart intends for faith, there, all mixed in. For the full faith-lean and rest of my entire personality, my nature, my character on Him. 

I am here growing ripe. Maturing for harvest day. Deep red heart growing sweeter in joy and all the sweeter still in late summer drought.

I'm really not sure how it all happens. And lately I wonder if it's happening at all. It doesn't look like it, and I don't sound like it, but even so...the Word has gotten into me.  

I pick up chef’s knife lying beside my watermelon and my own reflection glances back at me in wide blade and disappears into melon rind. Careful. Knife sinks deep and I guide it around widest circumference. It cracks open, juice bleeds sticky on cutting board. Seeds hidden in deep red heart are there for all the world and me to see. Found out. And aren’t seeds in the heart what the heart means? Intends? Watermelon seeds in watermelon heart intend to become watermelon.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig 




Friday, September 6, 2013

Filling Up the Holes. Just Watch God Do It.

Dervish wind grabs ancient pecan tree and wrestles it to the ground. Across the street it stood sentinel of history and witness of time since the Declaration of Independence was signed. It went down with fight famous. Hole in sky, hole in earth where tree spread root and limb, gape wide. Open-mouthed. Silent.

Men armed with chainsaws, ropes, and pulleys step around and climb over mangled limbs. Twisted. Saws eat and roar for more. Pulleys clang, ropes strain, men sweat, and always the constant roar carving through the battleground. Massive disks of trunk are hauled away.

The family keeps one though, and makes it into a patio table. Heads tilt back in upward remembrance at table of what was there, in upward recognition of what is open hole now. They break bread together, thankful because what was there was so good that it is sorely missed now. Thankful because of communion promise, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives…let not your heart be troubled…” (Jn. 14:27).

Peace fills the holes.

Thanksgiving fills the holes.

It’s morning and I stand outside in the backyard while yellow dog sniffs out morning, and I look up long, rough lengths of pecan tree. My eyes climb woody heights, eighty feet of arms and hands browned as if by age and sun. Old man tree. Clapping, swaying, creaking, groaning shuffling praise dance up and up. And up.

I crane my neck back just to watch this worship and, maybe it’s strange, but in the worship I look for holes. Leafy shadows feather across my face and flutter wing of peace, Spirit dove. And, aha, there they are. In the shadows. Space dappled between leaf and branch. Sky itself.

                         Praise Fills Hole

And I begin to see holes differently. See them there, between leaf and branch. Universe deep as Creator heart, holes. See them here behind living sway and life always in motion. Still heart of God, holes. His heart searches them out between leaf veil, cloud veil, sun veil. Probes space holes between stars. Black hole space. Beyond end of universe space.

And His heart fills the holes.

I hear it. Feel it. It’s holy morning in my backyard. A barefoot holy morning. No shoes to remove. I lift my hands high and sky pieces jig and saw with tree pieces. Fluid puzzle. Kaleidoscope.

I read this morning, “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image.” (Courage to Change).

The first person who loved me, loved me when I was perfectly full of holes. Unholy. It wasn’t another like me, but One who is perfectly whole. Holy. God. He doesn’t twist me into His own image, but fits me into His own image. Fit me securely in holy breath breathing life into Eden dust. “Let us make man in our own image” (Gen. 1:26-27). And He is fitting me this morning. Gifting me. I am fit in to this, His image. Barefoot on dew on grass on earth. And I have Eden-wonder.

It’s morning, and all He gave then remains even now. It’s in my backyard. A wonder that it was all gift to fit hole. To fit void heavens and earth. Praise filled every place, I’m sure, when “Let there be…” became. There, where holes gaped.

God-gift fills the holes.

I’m looking for holes. Searching for them in jig sawed tangle. And I glimpse the heart of God in it. How He fills what gapes wide in what tangles tight. I turn squinting eyes inward. Close them to better see my jig sawed heart. The jig of praise; the sawed holes. Sawed, but sawed open to be filled with praise.

A breath of wind parts leaf from leaf, branch from branch, high in tree. A pause in its praise. Selah. But it open a wide-eyed, gaping mouth hole and it kind of hurts. I hold my own breath. Breathless, It’s how I feel sometimes, But then, I’m learning to look at holes differently, And pauses differently, too. The opening above lasts a breath. A Selah pause. And then closes full with whoosh and rush, branches, leaves and old man tree praise.

                                          Pecan Tangle

Praise fills the holes.

There are holes along the path in my garden where I’ve had to dig up dead plants.

There is a gaping hole in my rose garden where my most prized bush suddenly shriveled and was dead within the week. It filled the dining room window and glowed iridescent when approaching lightening storms turned the air itself green.

There are holes around my kitchen table. Empty chairs. I remember filling those chairs one at a time. High chairs, booster seats, and how the children would sit at table on the “grown up” chairs, chins at table height and plate level. Two sons are now married, one daughter half-way out with one foot in college and the other at home. A pregnant pause. Selah.

And holes too quiet where a houseful of rambunctious children hummed loud and where dishwasher, washing machine and dryer sloshed, whirred, thumped off kilter, and spun every waking moment and sometimes into the night.

And soul holes.

They are weighty. Who would have thought? That open space, air, too much silence is heavier than enormous hard wood trees, rose bushes heavy with scent and bloom, an armful of toddler and infant on hip and the time when two teen aged sons swung like Tarzan down at creek on poison vine? Nothing is heavier to mother’s heart than brave manboys fighting tears and losing a little.

I call yellow dog. And God. I call to God, “So many holes!”

“My peace I give to you,” He repeats. And I don’t want to hear, “In all things give thanks.”

I balk. “What do You mean? What sincerity is there in me when I thank You for shriveled rose bush that I loved? For house too quiet and table too empty?”

I call out more, “Heart! Of! God! Will You fill? These? Soul holes I try not to feel?”

“I filled the heavens and the earth when there was void and it was good. I filled empty jugs with water and it became wine and the wedding guests rejoiced. I filled five-thousand hungry people with two loaves of bread and five fish and my servants marveled amazed. I filled empty nets and the fishermen recognized Me. And I filled Peter’s sifted, gaping and wide open heart.”

“Oh. Well, yes, there is that.”

                                Filled With Promise

So that’s what He means. Holes are fit for what He’s going to fill them with. Holes are there because from the beginning there was hole. And the very movement of life is holed. And I am holed.

Holes are the weighty pause between void and filled. The hungry empty between too little and more than enough. The Selah pause, the pregnant hope, the holding of my breath. Holes are uncomfortable. I’ll hurt between breaths and in the Selah stillness.

And I’m sure I’ll forget most of this when I feel most hole.  But right now I am remembering. And right now pauses breathe and Selah stills and I am barefoot on dew waiting weighty for the jig and saw that fits me to His image holy.

And that’s a start for when I fill soup pot half way and know that the bread I baked will last three times as long. I’ve taken to giving loaves to my sons' wives. It takes hole and makes table of it and breaks bread.

It fills.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig