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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Because. He Is. My Hope.

College girl leans back and drapes herself on kitchen table. I sip tea. Something loose leaf from Tibet, I think. Gift from tea connoisseurs, daughter-in-family and her lanky husband-my firstborn son. Gift from a piece of their own story.   

And fuzzy pink polka-dot socks hang dangley off one end of table, tapping the kitchen air all lark.

Tea steeps in traditional Japanese tea pot. Spout and handle side by side. Not English style. Gift from Japan-traveling German husband. I pour Tibetan tea. Liquid stream of amber. And china cup fills. Steady, slow, careful.  

And this pink hoodie over black shorts over brown stockings stretches across table length and long hair pours brunette waves over table side. Laughing. And eyes dance bright in one-two-three, one-two-three waltzing laughter, jigging chatter. Dancing on table top.

Amber washes the red peony painted inside my tea cup. Bright blue handle. Red china flower blooms in blue curve just above the curl of my finger. This cup also gift. From the son who knows more about the weight set in the garage than about tea cups. But he knows me.

And this college daughter. I raise an eye-brow. And my straight line finds curve. Curves up. And what flower blooms in curve just below eyes that smile, too? Laughter warm. Laughter mine. If laughter had a color it would be amber. And my heart is all red peony washed amber and drinking in laughter. We’re soaked in tears of laughter. A joyful rain like the one falling from the sky today.

Then this very same daughter spilling amber all over my table top grabs my hand and pulls me to patio, rain soaked. She twirls dizzy there. Soaking up laughing rain. Soaking herself in splash falling from God’s eyes smiling.


And I wonder how many rain drops fall because God is giddy with joy. I wonder at the thunder. Is it the roar of His laughter? Lightening, the Texas Two-Step? Eyes lit up bright as He jigs overtop earth table?

“Look around you and see through it to Me,” God voice from autumn fire last week.

I haven’t forgotten. Faith, trust, and all hope. Seeing faith, believing truth, hoping through all. God hope. Regarding God, regardless, and because.

Because. He Is. My Hope.

Unseen but oh so real. Glory-hope. Now-hope. Forever-hope. Faith is wrapped up in it. My own faith endures because of it and I am looking. Looking around me. Looking to unwrap faith.

It’s happening slow. I’m slowing my world to see less blur. I’m watching leaves fall slow in a morning wind that can’t make up its mind which way to blow. The wind is blur, but the leaves aren’t. A swirl flocks on wings speckled yellow and brown and… what’s this? Leaf wings and lights in the curl of my finger around mug of morning coffee. It really does! It’s no special color. Not red or bright orange. Just brown and yellow speckle. But it is gift.

I bend over it. Looking. And simply see through it to God. I do! It sounds too simplistic. Too easy. But last week was all autumn fire. I gladly hold one plain leaf today.

So many on the ground now. Tree limbs are being stripped. Leaf by leaf.

And if rain is sometimes happy tears of God joy, couldn’t leaves falling be  too?

Things are changing. Falling away. I’m changing and impatient for a few things to just blow away. But pluck a leaf before it’s ready to fall and it will bleed wound. Let it fall when it’s ready to let go and it will dance flutter.

I carry leaf inside and set it on kitchen counter. Its veins are old and its skin paper thin, fragile. But it’s free.

The letting go isn’t forced. It’s an act of faith. And I see it in its nakedness and hope holds my own faith. Hope for emotional healing. And mental healing. Hope for chains to be broken and for beauty out of ashes. Hope for all that God has said is. But not all seen, yet.

Simply Leaf

I tug on hope.

Jesus is my hope. And didn’t Jesus endure for the joy set before Him?

I tug harder on hope.

Ribbon Way as long as forever wrapped around faith and trust. Pistis and pisteuo to the end of joy. It’s all tied together somehow. Hope hangs naked, while faith endures trial.

And joy fills even now.

It’s beautiful. But I’m afraid of it too. Because it’s “let us also be full of joy now! Let us exalt and triumph in our troubles….” And it’s “let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God” (Romans 5:2-3 Amp.).

And because this joy, this exultation in my hope of experiencing and enjoying God’s glory is not without “approved faith and tried integrity.” Not without painful birth to character.

But what sort of character is birthed by “God’s love poured out… through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us?’” (Romans 5:5). What sort birthed so? Christ character. In me.  

I have desired and feared four times birthing pain. And gave birth to four characters. I look at them all around me, and its life-joy to see through them to God.

It was easy when youngest of all bent all blond curl, hands and knees on sidewalk, to watch roly-poly’s bend into little grey balls and then unfold and move a few inches. And how I, too, slowed to watch patient with her just in case they should do something rather spectacular like crawl extra fast, which they didn’t ever.  And it’s easy still to see when she strums guitar and sings beautiful like she did last night. Easy to see through laughter tears. I fumble urgent faith through change, stripping, falling leaves and there tug hard on naked hope.

It is called blessed, all this. This seeing through to God.

It is called life-joy and satisfaction, all this regarding God, regardless and because.

Because it’s all wrapped up in God-hope.

And that means a tree load in the back yard of this little life.


written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fire Glory All Around

Crazy heights. Nutty hunger. Leaves and pecan nuts and squirrels and shadows splotchy over wood fence. I can see everything here without even looking around. It’s all shadow imaged. Even squirrel jumping branches just now. Shadow jump.

Leaf spins twirl. Shadow falls down wood fence. Leaf strokes pool water and fall swims. Water ripples slight and I see it better in shadow on fence than in pool. Rippley strings. Harmonious shadows play there as if plucked for song.

And why not? All is spinning, twirling, leaping, chattering, feasting…praising. I had hoped for this in August heat. And here it is. Autumn. Another picture of faith and trust and hope come together at the same time. Pisteuo.

Yes, faith is evidence of things hoped for, and I can see it right here clear as all color exploding out, trees flaming bright fire yellow, orange, red. Leaves flying off. Like sparks. And pecans hitting the ground, pop-pop-popping in autumn flame.

I see it in the fire that tries it. Glory fire. Somehow I walk by it. And how on earth does that work? How do I walk by faith and not by sight if faith is itself evidence of what is not seen?

And why do I see better the song played in shadow on fence than in pool where it’s happening? Something backward about this.

And what is the song? What song fits both praise and fire?

I puzzle over this as steam rises from my coffee cup. Even this is in the shadow. I close my fingers around it’s warmth in autumn fire.

And soul fire. What about that fire? I felt it earlier on the staircase when morning sun shot flame through upstairs window and ran down the stairs and skidded gold across the wood floor. Sparks splayed there and I stood in them brave. I felt them glance off glass frame photos on wall.

Because they are wedding day photos.

And because it’s oldest son tall and suited and with a smile unlike any other I’ve ever seen him wear. And because it’s bride photo. And because it’s brother with brother photo, one a groom and one with his girl. And because it’s her photo, too. Delight caught in her eyes and tossed bridal bouquet caught in her hands. 

Because it’s bouquet of faith for marriage hopes and because I know that fire glory.

I squint against the glass frames sparking.

Today I do feel singe. I won’t say I don’t. But here in autumn flame and staircase spark, “If this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few” moan is gone. St. Theresa of Avila said it. Saints do moan sometimes. But today the likes of me isn’t. Today it’s, “You must love me a lot to keep me in the flame so long” fire-glory.

I don’t recognize myself in what I just said.

I’m being changed somehow in this fire.

Silversmith over autumn fire means to see His image in mine.

I hope for it. I burn for it. I endure for it.

It’s just hope plain and simple. Splotchy except for the shadow strings strumming harmonious across wood fence and soul wall. I can’t hear the music. It’s shadow to me. But God can. It’s glory to Him.

And why do I keep looking at hope when I should be touching faith? It’s there. It’s here. I remember I’m standing in it. It’s in squirrel stuffing its cheeks with pecan and pumpkin. Perched alert and breathing on branch and leaping to the next, feasting full on fall. Its own actions evidence of what it cannot see. Winter.

And how much are my actions evidence of what I cannot see? A heavenly country. A flood. A birth. A resurrection. Or a better testimony. I can’t touch these any more than I can touch shadow.

But faith is substance and I can touch that.

There are so many hope-shadows moving across my soul wall. “Show me faith and, Jesus, help me get this straight!”

He does. “Look around you.”

I do. And I start to get it. “I’m standing in faith. In it. I’m standing in faith!” I laugh and I admit it’s tinged with “unbelievable!”

“You’re surrounded by it,” God laughs too.

“This is habit forming!” I throw up my hands and take it all in for a moment.

I approach the wall. The temptation to touch hope, even though I can’t hold it, is strong. “What about this?” I nod toward my hand at the shadow lying in my palm. It looks different, distorted, when I hold it.

“Look around you,” is all He has to say about that.

“Ok. But still, what about this?” I close my fingers over hope. But now it’s even more distorted over bumpy knuckles.

Look around you,” third time insisting. He has my attention.

“Look around you and see through it to Me.”

I look down at hope-shadow broken over my knuckles. I look up at what surrounds me. At what I’m still standing in. And I face the evidence, back to the wall and covered in hope cast all over me.
I access God and grace here. Faith is my entrance. I enter the crazy heights and nutty hunger praise loud, here. I enter autumn flame here. Rejoicing bright.
And can I enter my own fires soulical with same joy and hunger and praise? Can I rejoice here? I know I’m told to. “Let us also be full of joy now.” And “Let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God” (Romans 5:2-3, Amp.).But can I? Do I know how?

I am trying to see His face through flames. Trying to rejoice at this entrance. And what about when the flames become a wall of fire? What then? Now? And when I try to hold onto hope alone, and it distorts? Dissipates?
“What did You say again?” I am amnesic.

“Look around you and see through it to Me,” He is patient.

What am I standing in the midst of? Oh yeah, faith. Funny, wise really, how He didn’t say “Look around you and walk in faith.” Not here. Now, it’s enough to look and just stand here looking. Trying to see. Just to see.
Grace. Here. In the front-facing forward look. Back to the wall, yes.
Why do I see better the song played in shadow on fence than in pool where it’s happening? And why don’t I know what song fits both praise and fire?
Because I’ve been facing the wrong way. That's why.
I don’t see and I don’t know because grace is not in looking away from the flame and fire. I struggle, still, to keep my hand from grasping hope that will disappoint. To keep from closing my fingers around whatever image of hope cast there that my soul wants to see. Hard not to grab for hope, even lesser hope, when engulfed. These hopes dance across soul wall. Flicker there. And I am disappointed when I try to hold them. I know. I’ve tried.

It’s hard to get it straight. Hard to stand open handed. Very so hard to endure. To face the right way and let the flame cast enduring hope all over me. Ah, yes, enduring hope. Cast all over me. It’s what I want. Need. But so hard.

Hard to look around intent on seeing through it to God.

But it’s entrance to rejoicing. Entrance to hope that does not disappoint. It’s faith and hope, pisteuo entrance. And God’s love has poured out grace in my heart. His love has. Grace-love poured out in my heart that controls the flames refining it. Me. And grace to endure.

Grace to practice endurance. Over and over. To practice facing the right way. To practice forward and not backward. To practice standing in faith and knowing the love of God. To practice until it’s more than giddy habit backward but habit, formed, forward.

Habit of joyful hope. Confident hope. Hope of eternal salvation over that of temporal assurance because it’s not assuring at all. I’ve been deluded too many times by it and it dissipates whenever I reach to hold it. Every time. No. Not this habit but the one joyful, confident hope of lasting hope.

I’m practicing. It’s either that or have no real hope. And that is unthinkable. I will die practicing.

How long have I been standing out here anyway? My coffee isn’t steaming anymore.

Muddy dog sprints by. Grinning. Squirrel crazed. And I really want to paint squirrel. Morning tribute to faith.

I spread newspaper over kitchen table and around freckle-nosed cat. She complains. Paint brushes, paper, water in spare aluminum cat dish and paw the color of pumpkin dips cautious in water dish, splashes gentle, and she sits on tracing paper, pounced on pencils, bats brushes and how do I paint squirrel?

By opening the kitchen window where she chatters her teeth at squirrel sitting on branch just beyond reach. That's how!
written by: Carolyn Roehrig





Monday, October 14, 2013

Glimmer Of Faith

A comment made. A question asked. A tone interpreted. A misunderstanding, or maybe not. A reminder of past offense. Sting of tear. Bite of fear. “And God, I thought I buried this all a long time ago,” I wave garden spade at Him.

I stand outside processing wild weeds among dry stalks fading in fall yellow. And there is web tangled in it all. I look at it all tangley. All clingy to what is dead and should be buried but is on display. And at this moment I feel like what it looks like.

Tangled tenacious. Wild weave. Hanging tight to life familiar. Life messy. Messy web.

The suffering in the web. I get it. I don’t know why troubles stick so hard. Contention without and fears within and crippling memories still cripple.

And what is web? This web? Ugly. That’s what. It clings to rambunctious disorder. Weedy, stalky live twisted around itself. And it clings all relentless grip, to insect. Biting, stinging, insects. It is castle in the air with dungeon door open for sight-seers. I want to sever it with spade, wad it up, and bury it deep with the same spade. The one I waved at God.


One webby strand is caught in cling of light. Then disappears. I stand stalk still. All eye caught up. Waiting for light to strum web.

And there it is again!

Hope’s nourishment. I watch til I see what I didn’t know I was looking for. But I know it when I see it.



“This is what faith looks like,” I hear God.

Spade falls to ground. I don’t want the weapon anymore and I don’t want to bury anything. I want to see more faith. To capture that run of light glinting. To wrap faith web around it and drink it in.

To just drink light.

Web strand is invisible except where sun runs slender finger over it. Points it out. Faith invisible. Except where God finger strums.


Webby substance. Tested by sorrows. I don’t like it, but I know it must be this way. I see it right in front of me.

Gold glint of light on gossamer strand shows me that faith is there. That sorrows may be turned to joy. That there is substance to what I hope to believe.

I google “web.” How strong is it? “Half as strong as steel, but extensible,” I read. If steel were flexible as web, then web would be tougher. Five times tougher than steel. And web stretches thirty percent longer than its spun length. Without breaking. And more on web…it vibrates unheard frequency when insect flies into it.

Suffering struggle strums strands, strange hum in stretch.

And I feel like the father who watches his son seize, convulse and wallow on the ground and who then cries to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:24).

Or like Thomas whose trust had been trampled enough in the past to weaken his faith that Christ is who He said He is, and does what He said He’ll do.

I, too, need tangible evidence to help me to believe. To trust.

Isn't this what faith means? Death and ressurrection evidence of hope for salvation, arc evidence of hope for household deliverance, tent evidence of hope for a heavenly country, sacrificial evidence to gain testimony, to endure, and for a lifetime of things hoped for. Sometimes I feel the ache acutely.

And don't trials show that faith is there just as much as God finger pointing it out in hallelujah glimmer, or in God eye glancing light upon it?

And doesn’t faith show that hope is there wrapped tight around all?

This hope, the kind wrapped tight around all trial and all glory, is the kind I must have if I am to have reason to keep trusting God.

It is what faith means! I checked the Greek. Faith really does mean in word everything that believe means and trust means and hope means.

It's all "pistis" faith and "pisteuo" believe and trust "...(and with this at the same time hope...)."
-Greek expert Kenneth Wuest-


Belief and trust and with this at the same time hope…”pisteuo.”

Hoping faith.

Hoping belief.

Hoping trust.

Pisteuo taken from pistis, as I understand. Inseparable, tougher than steel, humming odd.


It’s the glinting light running along the line that threads through my story. Hope or bust for me. Because too much trust has been too much broken. Because the strands of faith in my web have been stretched that full thirty percent with trust issues. Because it’s “rejoice in the glory of God" and because it’s not only that, but also in tribulations to the end of the line. To hope.
(see Romans 5:2-5).

And the strum vibrates web sound, strange music, when suffering pulls sticky string taught in struggle. It’s just hard to believe when my own strings have been pulled to tense lengths. I know, it’s producing endurance. But is it okay to say that sometimes I don’t want any more endurance? It’s not always enough motivation for me. But a habit of rejoicing because pistis and pisteuo are spun thread sticky and strong through and through with hope? Yes.

And whatever assaults faith is twined immediately with hope.

Suffering tangles up in faith. Faith stretch is heard in “You said” strain. “You said all things are held together in You! You said You will not give me more than I can bear! You said You will give good things to those who ask! You said. These words. I have only prayed them. Said them. Back to You.”

And faith stretches further, “What are You trying to do? Give me a nervous breakdown? Make my heart sick? Pull apart what You put together? I’m hanging by a thread here!”

And to the breaking point, “If You don’t prove yourself faithful and trustworthy, then I have little left to say to You.”

I have said this. I have wept this. Hope shot, web threatens to unravel.

But it is so strong. Faith.
And the truth is that I am captured, held still in God. I am. Even when I toss and struggle and weaken.

“Forbid my faith to break,” I ache in mid-air dangle. “Forbid it, God, no matter what flies at it.”

And faith holds grip on stalks dry and weeds wild. All tangled. All hold. All spun pattern in faith web. It is so. It is written, “Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope”
(Romans 5:3-4).


And His finger draws line of light along a single strand, the thread holding faith suspended in thin air.

And five words are left to say, “Not my will, but Thine.”

Five pistis words. Five pisteuo breaths.

And faith strains. Vibrates hum. Thrums faith web strings. Strum skillful fingers lighting this thread here, that thread there. The tangle, the struggle  weights string with tension.

Belief, trust all hope spun…

all pisteuo

and my breath and word are interpreted according to His strange music.

I stretch to retrieve spade at my feet. I’m ready to go in now. I’ve seen glimmer of what faith looks like. Holy evidence in earthiness.

And I know now the one line that runs through my story. And it must be touched by God finger to be seen tangible. Substance for pisteuo.

All hope.  

I am alert to it.
I must be.


written by: Carolyn Roehrig