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Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Hen Named Howard

Hen laid eggs gathered from backyard. Were they Howard’s? Howard  lays them green, I learned. Well, they’re placed on breakfast table all natural in the pan they were scrambled in and comfortable next to the bread left over from dinner last night. We broke it then and the chunks missing are reminder of that sweet communion.

We commune again this morning. Break more bread with these followers of Christ we haven’t seen for fourteen years, but our sprits know one another as if a mere day had passed. Because time doesn’t mean anything in the Spirit realm that is realm in this bright kitchen with white washed cupboards, cloth napkins, tea candles and dish towel rumpled under Howard’s eggs and plate of local bacon. It was purchased that morning and wrapped in butcher’s paper and it could make a bacon eater out of the likes of me.

And it seems to me that highest Spirit realms are at commonest table where time melts like butter on homemade bread and miraculous happens all communion.

All common. Something rumpled. Something lit. Something heavy iron pan. Something savory. Something scrambled. Local-est pig common, and berry jam and butter common and common grain. And Bread. Saturated. And I’m melting right into Bread at table. Right into Jesus.

We prayed together in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we talked as the disciples must have talked in Jesus’ presence. Quest conversations to know Him better. To understand His life.

Did Jesus talk of His childhood and did His disciples laugh with Him at the “I remember when” stories? Surely. And surely there would have been many to tell. Raising the Son of God? Being sibling to the Son of God? Playing with Him? Childish teasing? Working with Him? Saying “good night” and “good morning” and “thank you” and “please” to Him and hearing Him say the same back? Praying with Him and bowing head at table with Him? Oh yeah. There were stories. He was born of Mary!

The begotten Son of God had a flesh and blood mother and if that’s not enough to put us on quest then we have lost child-like questions. Those wide-eyed “how?” and “why?” questions that look up from below knee level because even a grown-up like me remembers better to be as child when I bend knee and sit back on heel to become small with large perspective. Narrow the eye, lock the knee and stand grown-up tall and the common miraculous shrinks to just common.

My quest to understand big God begins where my big is cut off at knee.  

Make me small. Hen height in large backyard.” I’m humbling myself on purpose. Looking around like this on purpose. At whatever is backyard-ish behind front edifice, common and hidden at back door in a front-door, curb-appeal world. And I’m seeing big. Asking big why’s and how’s and amazing large at big and letting my feathers get ruffled.

“Be small and have big perspective. Be wide-eyed and see big." And He laughs teasing,“Don’t worry if what comes out of you is odd green egg!”

“Oh, cluck-cluck!” I laugh hen “ha.”


What comes out of me is odd. It’s Christ, I hope. Hope only because I am filled with Holy Spirit. Hope because the life of Christ is being formed in me. And I hope all through trust that somehow others may see that I am large with Him. And laboring to deliver Him to this world so barren. To give to the barren, Christ.

 The labor is as labor is. It just happens. Because life is too big to be held in. And labor just comes when it’s time and I can’t make it happen and I can’t stop it from happening.

What do the labor pains feel like when delivering Christ? It feels like pressure. Holy Spirit pressure. It’s like a cramp that can be sort of ignored until it can’t be ignored any longer because it’s persistent and nagging and increasing. And, really? I try to ignore holy pressure because it cramps? Cramps my life?

I want His life pushed right out of me. Delivered. I really do. It’s just uncomfortable. His life birthed from mine. It’s engulfing and breath-taking and everything in the world is swallowed up by it. By the effort. And then swallowed up in the joy. And it’s life changing. Every delivery.

And it’s scary. Because, “What if I deliver You; deliver Hope; and the breath never takes?” It’s happened before. Still-born delivery. It’s heart-sickening. Hope deferring and heart-sickening.

“Trust Me.” He says it so simple.

“But where are You when the breath of Life doesn’t take? Doesn’t fill Spirit lungs?” I tremble it out because I know it’s not because of His neglect. But, “Where are You in this?”

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and His answer confuses me.

“You can’t be deferring this hope. Because it is Yours….” I can’t even whisper it because still-born questions empty lungs that want to hear birth cry lusty and lung full.

“Trust. Hope. Faith-breathe.” Is all He says. And this “all” isn’t the “That’s all there is-the end” kind of all. It’s the“beginning of everything” kind of all.

It’s pisteuo kind of all. My life word. Believe, trust, and hope all through word.

I think about this and it hangs with me all the way back home til the next day.

Then, “Ahh! If hope deferred makes the heart sick, then what defers hope? Where does this heart sickness start?”

“Misplaced trust defers hope.” He answers and it’s all scrambley to me and how on earth do you unscramble eggs?

“Why does your fear of a still-birth keep you from pushing Me into the world?” I know what He’s doing. He’s unscrambling eggs.

“Because what if it’s because I don’t push at the right time or hard enough? I don’t trust myself enough to do it right.” My answer gets stuck in my throat because I’m hearing what I’m saying.

He nods.

“Ohh!” I breathe out relief and fill lung all “God! I’ve misplaced my trust!”

I get another nod and I think He’s offering me a green egg.

“My hope is not deferred by You!” I take the egg and give Him my trust. Put it all in His hands. Again.

“Pisteuo.”The word in etched in me. “Believe, trust, and hope all through.” The whole word, because believing isn’t enough. Faith without backbone and skin and nerve endings and blood flow and tear flow, isn’t enough. By itself it’s a bookend that’s not weighty enough to keep a row of books from dominoing down. I have one. It looks heavy. It’s shaped like a book with an owl promoting “Who’s Hoo”as if it knew. But at least it’s not hen clucking.

It toppled as bookend and “Hoo-hoo”sounded like “Glue! Glue!” I glued and it supports boxes of tea now, feather light.

I’m at my own kitchen table. Sipping tea and thinking, “I don’t want faith that supports tea bags.” Black tea for energy. Chamomile for rest. Ginger because it’s my new favorite. Cinnamon for Christmas. Chai for latte. And Echinacea for health. Yeah, I sip these because I have really cute tea cups hanging on wall above it all.

I’m swallowing ginger now. And my thumb is cradled between blue ceramic butterfly wings at top of handle and caterpillars and butterflies crawl and flutter circles in raised ceramic relief.
Only my thumb holds down the one ready fly right off handle.

And there you have it. Faith in a tea cup. It goes down strong spice nipping my tongue because it’s steeped long and it pours out real where caterpillars believe they will fly. And then do. And where butterfly perches ready to go at any time. If it should ever break off, I will miss it but I won’t be surprised and my “faith cup” will then become my “pisteuo cup” because believing isn’t enough. Trusting belief that flies because it hopes? That’s pisteuoenough.

Pisteuo is freeing.




Welcome Mat

“Do you have a welcome mat?”

“What does that have to do with pisteuo?” He puzzles me.

He knows I do because He saw me drag it from front door and place it seven paces away. Seven stepping stones to front swing.”

“Why did you move the welcome mat?”He asks.

“Because I am afraid of arriving guests. Because I can control the swing out front, but not everyone inside.” I confess it. And there it is. Fear all thumb pressing down pisteuo that would welcome if I lifted thumb and let trust in God fly beautiful.

“Wasn’t the welcome mat spread for you by people who haven’t seen you for fourteen years? And hadn’t they met you only once before that? Didn’t you eat Howard’s green eggs and local bacon and break homemade bread together and share Me? And weren’t your lungs filled full with My breath alive and life’s cry strong?” He’s helping me remember.

“Yes, Lord.”

“This is your life word. Your pisteuo. And I love God so much and tell Him so.

“I love You so much!” I’m looking always for pisteuo. It’s my life practice. Every day.

I sweep off welcome mat and place it at front door. Pisteuo welcome.

I wash sheets and fluff pillows and place items in baskets that a guest might forget to pack and bake fresh bread and scramble eggs and give them a jar of berry jam from my pantry that my mother made.

And I am surprised by pisteuo.

It fills me up and is sticking like sweet jam to my soul. It’s scramble in me and spread in me and melts in me and saturates me. I gave welcome in the way I was welcomed, and received pisteuo.Again.

I‘m finding it, this pisteuo life, more and more as I practice the search. I look for it and stir up hen house to find it. In the unlikely. In the normal. In the common. In a hen named Howard who lays green eggs in the backyard and in delivering Christ to backyard souls who want more than edifice. And I’m finding it in everything in between.

Believe and trust and hope all through every day. I find it in crumpled dish towels and lit candles and rumples laundry. I find it in scraping eggs dry stuck off pan and paying bills and buying groceries and seeing “Do Sabbath Love” on calendar square at fridge door. It all has to do with faith and trust and hope all through because it’s life.


Lived normal with hope that somehow something Christ and green egg odd will come from me.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

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