Click on the image below. It leads to my website:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

And These are My Thoughts this Resurrection Sunday

Scattered two-by-fours about six feet long. Splintered fence slats with nails still in them. And how many seasons have weathered the rusty red paint that still stains stubborn, but beaten? They lay strewn and broken on the side of the garage.

I inherited the wood from my sons who were going to haul it away but got married instead and what man remembers old rugged wood beams when he's got a bride?

I dug through the drawers trying to find where I'd stashed garden gloves from last year and found one. But one was enough, sort of. Enough for now, because now I'm motivated to straighten the wood and that hasn't happened before and may not happen again for another season.

Bent at waist, not wanting to get too close, I lift an end of two-by-four and peek under. I'm ready to drop it and jump back because there could be spiders under there. Or snake. Or not.

Not. I take firm grip with gloved hand and "sleeved" hand and my hoodie may forever have one arm longer than the other, and I pull. I pull harder. I dig heels in and full weight lean back and so much for thinking I'll just carry the two-by-fours over my shoulder like Paul Bunyan and build me a wood pile!

No I dig heel, lean, drag and like that feel the heaviness of wood.

And I wonder, "Just how heavy was the cross?"

It wasn't one two-by-four. It was thicker. And it was crossed at the top. And surely it tipped heavy and wobbled uungainly to one side and then to the other as Jesus' gait shifted from one foot to the other.


I stop pulling. Just stand with this two-by-four leaning against me. I feel it in my hands and it presses against my chest and pins me immovable and, "The cross was so heavy!" The thought leans hard against soul.

I pull my sleeve down secure over left hand and drag wood. There are so many pieces and these are too heavy for me. I go to the old fence slats. They are heavier than they look and there are nails and splinters and I want to call my sons and compel them to do this for me!

I just plant my feet in the gravel and am overwhelmed. It's too much. Too heavy. Too splintery. Too naily. And I don't know if it was my thought or His because sometimes our thoughts get all mingled together, but "Who paints their fence the color of blood?"

"Huh," The air hangs between breaths.

There is a rickety section that looks like a piece of gate. There are no nails in it except for those holding it together. It's artistic in a rugged kind of way. It's leaning against a tree at side of garage and, "It's gate! Against tree!"

I touch it. Feel the beaten roughness beneath my fingers. Old crimson paint mostly worn off by time.

"Jesus," I ache His name out. Because He is the gate. And the Gate was beaten rough and bled stain and leaned hang against tree. "Oh, Jesus."

I wrap my arms around this piece of gate and carry it through hinged gate leading to garden and lean it against brick wall there where I can see it from kitchen window. Later I would place three birds crafted from metal. One red. One blue. One green. Because birds fly in the heavens. Free.

And I'm free because He was beaten rough and stained crimson so I could fly free. Free from sin that weighs heavy.

Why didn't one of His disciples offer to carry the cross when He could not? Why a foreigner? An on-looker compelled by soldiers? Compelled because he had no reason to offer. Compelled because he was strong. And the cross wasn't too heavy for his body. And it wasn't too heavy for His soul. But it would have crushed disciple soul.

The cross is heavy. Still. Because it's saturated.

Saturated by sin.
Saturated by Jesus' blood.
Saturated by glory.

What happened to the cross after Jesus said, "Forgive them, Father," and "It is finished!"? And after He descended into hell and conquered death and rose back to life and gave us His Holy spirit before He went back home to His Father? What happened to the cross?

Did it dry up? Did it? In a way? Because the damning power of sin and hell dried up when Jesus went there Himself and took the keys of hades and overcame death by the power of His name? That's all it took. Just His name. Jesus. And the cross isn't heavy with sin anymore because it's not there hanging there on it anymore.

"Take up your cross, and follow Me." I've read it so many times before and, I will say, I've never really been sure about which cross because isn't there only one cross? Is that what it means? Take up the cross that Jesus bore sin on 'til He died and took away sin? If it is, then it's not very heavy.

It's not heavy! It's not! It can't be, because He's not telling me to take up the weight of my sin on His cross. He's telling me to take up the weight of His glory there. And that's all grace. 

"Take up your cross, and follow Me."

It's glory saturated to follow grace. And grace saturated to take up His glory. And I don't know how it works. Maybe it can't be explained. Maybe to try to explain it  would be to take up a burden where miracle, just miracle, is meant. And is.

It's the only way I can follow Him. By His grace.

Birds on Slats

The two-by-fours and splintery slats are still stained and nails are still in them. They are still laying all scattered in gravel and I've removed glove and hoodie arm is stretched out all misshapen long and I didn't do what I set out to do. "Jesus," I admire the gate, "saturate me in Your glory. Please."

"Take up your cross."

I'm looking out kitchen window at the birds on the leaning gate.

"Glory is weight. Forgiveness is lift. Now, fly!" He knows I'm looking at the birds I placed there. I think about His words because it takes both weight and lift to fly. It does!

He doesn't pound us with the cross or with our sin. He was pounded to the cross for our sin. And maybe the old rugged wood beams are distant memory for Him, because He's got a bride?

And these are my thoughts this Resurrection Sunday.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hosanna in the Highest!

She was forty-nine and suddenly in the Intensive Care Unit and there are four of us women who text one another to pray.

“Pray for her. She has swelling on her brain,” the text flashed right next to me and God. We were already deep in conversation at the foot of the bed. It’s our morning spot and we just expect to meet there.

“Praying.” It’s one word that sometimes has no human words to put to it. Sometimes we say “praying” and really mean, “No words.” But we know the Holy Spirit is groaning.

“She died for fifteen minutes. Then woke up.” Another text and, yes, God still raises the dead.

Three days later she left for good. Left for Good. And in a way that pain doesn’t readily understand, is it permitted to breathe, ““She left for what is good?” And nearly suffocate in the saying of it? Because how can it be breathed when its husband, children, parents who are left behind? It must first be breathed by them before anyone else dares strip them of the pain that is theirs to know.

May I say that the best comfort is mostly wordless? Because the pain must be felt in human shell. And all tears that fall over it are salty depth sea water. It’s silent and deep to sink just all closed up human shell to the bottom. And something hidden happens there if we comforters will let them lie down there and just let our own tears mingle with theirs, though we sink not like they do, and let Holy Spirit groan and Jesus pray.

And there was another text. Another “Pray.” A mother with daughter in hospital because she can’t make herself eat. Severe anorexia. It’s mental illness and terror to be trapped in your own mind. The pain etches, saps life and an IV needle presses life from a bag into vein and mother’s anguish bulges vein and presses a river out of eyes shut against it.

It’s nearly Good Friday and try walking the path to the cross wrung out weak beneath grief. Is there someone to quietly carry life sapped dry through? Someone to carry girl whose hunger is self-starvation and she can’t hold up her own frame?

And there is friend close as natural family, fanged by lupus and “lupus” means “wolf.” I push her feet into the car because she has a doctor appointment and can’t drive anymore and can’t lift her own feet and sometimes she cries and I bend over her and press my cheek against her row braids and just press “God, grant her grace for this now moment.” Just press it into her ear and know that God Spirit is all holy grace press into her spirit. She finds praise that frees her where mere muscle is locked down. She makes jewelry from her wheelchair that customers buy for hundreds of dollars and she shows me a piece she’s commissioned to create while we eat gourmet crackers and cheese and grapes and carry each other.

Then there are those we call addicts and alcoholics and food addicts who are only eaten by a different wolf. Who can no more make themselves stop indulging than the anorexic can make herself eat, or the mourners from feeling it.

There is a stump of a pecan tree topped with snarled twigs sprouting bewildered there  just beyond backyard fence. It’s just stump and tangle and it’s what confusion looks like. It has no idea what it’s doing and I have no idea why it’s still there. It wouldn’t be, if it were in my backyard, because just looking at it is confusing.

But I’m looking at it now and, “Is that what the multitudes looked like to You when You rode into Jerusalem?” I ask Him. “No wonder You wept over them!”

“They didn’t know what things made for their peace.”

The Prince of Peace was right there and they were waving palm fronds and shouting out “Hosanna in the highest” as He rode by.

“I don’t understand,” I venture unsure. Because there is small whisper back of my soul saying that I do understand and that I do the same thing. I mouth worship words and do worship things just because everybody else is and my attention is not on the One who humbled Himself quiet and low and then weeps over me like He wept over Jerusalem.

“They didn’t know what they were doing.” He said it.

And there’s this whisper again. I hear it as we look at the stump of confusion.

I confess what is there because it’s so painful true. “That stump would not still be there if it were up to me. I’d cut it off and shed not a tear over it.”

“I’d give it new life,” His voice catches and we aren’t talking about the stump anymore.

I have no words of my own. Just His because I’ve been in His words this Holy Week and He helps me remember some of them.

He comes humbly. First in Bethlehem stable and then on donkey’s colt in Jerusalem. And He needed the donkey colt. The Son Of God needed. And said so. “I need a donkey’s colt,” He told His disciples. “Here is where you’ll find one and tell its owner that I need it.”  

He humbles Himself. He could have ridden in high on a horse. And maybe the crowd would have preferred that because it’s less convicting. Less convicting of our own pride and strength if the One Who is King rides high.

But He didn’t. Not this time. Because He knows why He is where He is and what He’s doing there. He’s not stump and I’m convicted because I am like that stump. I am like the confused multitudes that day in Jerusalem. I don’t always see Him when I’m mouthing praise to Him. And I can read pages of His word and not remember one word about Him. 

“Ahh” Understanding crosses my mind. “That’s how it happens. That’s how they go from ‘Hosanna in the highest’ to ‘Crucify Him’ within days.”

“They didn’t know what they were doing.” He reminds me again.

“Didn’t they know what they were even saying when they cried out ‘Hosanna!’”?

“Do you know?”

“Well. Hmm. Not exactly.” I admit and grab phone and google, “What does Hosanna mean” and I can feel God watching this and almost hear Him laughing to Himself about this age of technology. But I find, right quick, what John Piper says about it.

“Our English word ‘hosanna,’” he writes, “comes from a Greek word ‘hosanna’ which comes from a Hebrew phrase ‘hoshiya na’.” 

He goes on to explain that the Hebrew meaning is, “Save, please!” It’s Psalm 118:25 and the plea rose up one verse and one breath away from “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” One breath only between “Save, please!” and “Salvation has come!” One breath between death and life.

I’m wondering about these things. And about waving palms and crying out “Save, please!” and “Salvation has come!”

I’m wondering because I don’t know much about palm trees, but I do know that they are resilient. They don’t break easily. The just bend in storms and then stand up again.

I wonder at this because, “Lord, You rode low on a donkey’s colt and walked all over palm fronds. Stomped hoof all over the resilience the multitudes waved while shouting, “Save, please!” But all while waving what is resilient in fist. While wrapping their fingers around resilience and closing their palms over it and You wept over them, saying, “You don’t know what makes for your peace even as I stand, the Prince of it, right here in front of you,” (see Luke 19:41-42).

And days later they shouted “Free Barabbas the murderer! Kill Jesus the Savior!”

Because they didn’t know what they were doing.

Understanding crosses deeper. I just stand in my backyard and all I want to do is shake open my hands and stretch my fingers wide and turn my palms downward like that so that I can hold nothing. Then turn them upward to Jesus. And I dare not move a muscle right now, because we so quickly press fingers over fronds of resilience and close it against palm and wave it. Wave our resilience high while He rides low and then opens His palms and nails pierce there and pain pressed through everywhere.

There are those who really get this. They have laid their palms down beneath Jesus’ feet and colt hoof and cried out true, “Hosanna in the highest! Save us to the uttermost!”

Because they have been trodden and they know there is no recovery, no peace, no new life outside of God.

They know what they are saying when they cry out “Hosanna!”

And they know what they are doing when they lay down resilience because they know that sin is resilient and is impossible to break unless it’s laid down at Jesus feet.

They look out of place in the multitude of worshippers. They are a motley group who can’t stop tear flow. Who stagger sometimes. Whose skin is scarred by wolf attacks. Who are stranded without a wheelchair, their humble low ride.

And they are the ones who really know that the only way to the Father is though the One who was made Pearl of Greatest Price because He was shell of human flesh made sin and drowned in His own blood and descended to the bottomless and came up pearl gate. And He is Pearl Gate. The only way into the Father’s kingdom.

They know the only rescue is in Him who was buried below the humus earth. Below humble. Then entered behind hell’s gates. And rescued .

They know more of these things. Because they are the mother mourning her son’s death this Holy week. The daughter dying of anorexia, starved by hunger. The husband, children, parents mourning the one who left them for a lifetime because a whole life can be lived in fifteen minutes, and was raised from the dead, and then left for good. The woman who pounds silver and polishes stones and strings jewels though wolf bites excruciating and sometimes she wants to leave for Good. And those who frequent meetings because they’ve drowned in their swallow and felt hell lick their heels.

These cry, “Hosanna!” These know what makes for their peace. These pray the Lord’s Prayer together and are not being rehabilitated but new-habilitated. All newly clothed and covered for new life. They call out “Hosanna! Save, please! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” and are recovered. Re-covered.


And no wonder. The very word “recovered” is Latin rooted, “re-caperare.” It’s “recaptured.” It’s related to “heave to” old English meaning “to halt the headway of a ship by turning rudder.” And ship is vessel, and we are vessel. It’s “to obtain a final legal judgment in one’s own favor” (Webster’s dictionary). And isn’t that just exactly what Jesus did? It is!

The path to Paradise is etched in pain and eroded by tear flow and water flow and blood flow and we hang out to dry like the transgressors on their own crosses. There was flow from the cross. Sweat flow. Blood flow. Tear flow. Sap of life flowed down dry cross wood and sapped life from Life.

And He died for all the sin that we cry over.

Because sin hurts.

It hurts to fall down hard and we are fallen and soul scraped and spirit bruised. And He held back dammed up sin from damning us and the River of Life spills from Him, out His heart through His mouth.

He is the mouth of the River of Life and His words spill over us ‘til we who are sapped snap dry, shriveled because we’ve cried ourselves dry,scratch out "Hosanna. Save, please."

And He speaks out from mouth, Life words, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing.”

“Hosanna in the highest! Save, please! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spontaneous Praise

It surfs high and powerful and light can be seen clear though ‘til lip opens and mouth froths and spills surge and roar and tongue laps shore greedily. I watch it unfold three floor down from condo balcony and ask God, “What do You have to say about this ocean?” It’s a full-of-praise kind of question marked with exclamation point, really.

I go to Him. To where our words left off mid-conversation from yesterday. It’s always mid-conversation with Him. Always will be, I expect, because His words are endlessly alive and forever living. And relative. As if He knows what we will be talking about the next day.

Well, He does know. And today I am at the beach in Florida with my family. And this morning is wild breakers and crazy surfers and, “Let the sea roar, and all its fullness” (Psalm 96:11) surges from God mouth right over soul’s shore.

I gulp Living Water down and thirst for more. For more“tremble before Him all the earth,” to swallow me. And surfer drags board to shore and doubles over. Did he get shaken up out there in wild toss? I watch him pace, shake the tremble off, and paddle out again.

“Give, give, give to the Lord!” It’s all Psalm Ninety-Six roar alive. And this surfer is. They all are. And they don’t even know it.

And little boy plays rambunctious tag with waves that surpass even his energy, while his mother and sister bend more sedate over something in sand. And my own two girls, young ladies really, hold hands best-friend like and jump waves lopsided and twirl and wave up to me.

I’m still on balcony three floors up. Watching “give” happen.

All give without even knowing it because isn’t this kind of give just joy and play breaking open spontaneous and laughing right out?

Daughters in Waves
 I’ve heard said the earth laughs flowers. I lean over balcony rail and ask God right out over ocean itself, “So does the ocean roll with laughter? Does wave after wave of laughter run wide open and out loud up and down the beach?” It is and what am I doing up here, anyway?

“Give!” He says it delight full. Like He’s really loving the “give” He’s seeing. “Give! Give! Give to the Lord!” It splashes off scripture page and I want to. I want to get drenched in the splash.

“Let the earth laugh flowers!” Is He twirling? “Let all the islands rejoice!”

I can almost see Him surfing. “You do, surf that is, don’t You!”

“From island to island and horizon to horizon!” And He is getting carried away in His own fun. He is! I feel it.

The waves keep coming. Line after line. White lipped ‘til the laughter can’t be suppressed one second longer and it explodes out wide open mouth and white froth and it reminds me of when I laughed so hard with my sister that, well, laughter spewed out all white froth. Because we laughed out milk and cereal and isn’t it wonderful that sometimes it just can’t be suppressed?

I’m torn between running down three flights of stairs to beach and staying right here on balcony. Because there are more words. And I don’t want to miss them.
I turn to the Psalm Ninety-Six Word-song. Song is what Psalm means, after all. Line after line and verse after verse spill song off page, “Let all rejoice before the Lord! For He is coming, for He is coming…!”

“I see what You’re saying, Lord.” And I do. I hear it, too. It’s in line after line of wave after wave tumbling out verse after verse in Psalm-song.

Deep calls it out to deep, “He is coming! He is coming! Coming from the ends of the earth!” And it was song sung out all Holy Word before He came.

Water broke open before He came. And Mary tossed in the waves. Waves after wave of labor rhythm. One at a time they build in strength, increase in power, break over her and then recede. And she clenched her jaw.
But the Son of God was flesh and blood born on this earth shore that does tremble deep beneath every wave that pounds vast and powerful and breaks open and sweeps us out because no ocean wave or wave of the sea can clench jaw and contain “He is coming!” He walked right on top of water and waves like those crashing onto shore three floors down. It is song this very day and it sounds like lion roar.” I am coming again!” And He is Lion.

Nothing can hold Him back. No ring ten centimeters wide or wide as circumference of earth’s horizons can hold back His coming. No jaw can clench tight against it. He is coming. The Word will sweep from the ends of the earth to this shore and everything above it and beneath it and in it knows this. And groans for it like Mary did.

“Spill Yourself out of me and pull me deeper into Your power. Into You deep. And deliver Your excitement and Your joy for Your coming ‘til I am washed out like flotsam rising and falling to the rhythm of, ‘He is coming.’” I groan it out like Mary.

God hears. He answers. “Give! Give! Give rejoicing and thanksgiving and singing! Give holy worship and exalt My many names!”

I do right here on balcony. “You Are.” I say it simple and deep. “You just Are the ‘I AM.’” Because there is no absence of presence in the word “Am.”


I watch the surfers enter into the constant. And I enter a different constant. Enter the constant I AM.
They are stronger than I will ever be. They pull hard, hand over hand through the breakers ‘til they are out far. They wait there, bits of flotsam bobbing on boards, for wave big enough to ride.  And I watch them surf high wave power. I will never be strong enough in body to do what they are doing. I would if I could, just to feel in my body what I know in my spirit. But I am carried by higher power.

“God, make my spirit strong to surf! To enter past the shore line of Your gates and into the vast depths of Your courts like I see these surfers do from ocean shore and beyond.”

“Give! Give! Give to Me thanksgiving!”

“I will enter Your gates with thanksgiving.”

“Give! Give! Give to Me praise!” He continues.

“I will enter Your courts with praise.” We are having Psalm conversation and then fall quiet.

A few moments of silence between us, then, “Wanna race?”

I laugh with Him, “You’re on!”

And the two of us take off down the hall to the stairs and trip awkward through loose sand so warm and join the girls. We play and our laughter sprays up and runs along ocean edge and we splash each other in it.

And God is delighted. I just know He is.
Because this is praise.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Soaked All Through

I’m listening to the cows across the way. Whoever said they “moo?” They sound like old men yawning wide open. And dog next door speaks just once every thirty seconds into morning.

It’s warming slow and stinging wind has blown itself away and it rained gentle quiet last night. I see the damp darkened patio stone, but step out in my socks anyway. Socked feet are soaked. The air is soaked. I look up at clouds dancing with the sun and remember reading once somewhere in scripture that the clouds are God’s footprints. Or something like that.

“Are You dancing to the praises lifted by all Your creation?” And silently I wonder, “Even those yawning cows?”

“Even those!” He taps out puffs of laughter all cloud up there.

“Ha! You heard me!” I laugh back and it’s not yet warm enough to melt my own breath. I see it. The breathy cloud from my own lips. And we’re breathing together. Sharing the same air. God and me.

He moves across sun and her light swirls around them. I watch ‘til my eyes are soaked. It’s beautiful. They are beautiful. God is beautiful. The way He dances in and through and with and to His own creation.

  White-tailed hawk draws spirals with ragged wing. Sings? Does shrill “chwriiirk” count? If cows do, the hawk does too.
And tree hugging backyard fence scrapes out groans all wooden and dry throated sounding like an old rock star who lost his voice years ago.

I look up, but He’s still dancing! I guess that’s good news for the likes of me who has songs and no one else to sing them. I don’t sound like an old rock star, but I don’t have a voice trained all real either. But still He dances. Because it’s all praise and somehow it comes together in a beautiful I can’t hear. Only He can hear it whole.

It’s His song and it’s alive.

Nothing but living song for the Living Word.

This morning I am silent. My ears are soaked. My eyes are soaked. My feet are soaked. And awe does that. It soaks when we stand silent and let it.

The branch that fell days ago is soaked, too. Soaked at least two shades darker and three times heavier.

 “Soak me ‘til I look it and am heavy with it. It’s all Your kind of beautiful.” I think the prayer and breathe it all out, “Because Your beauty is heavy.”

I turn to go in where it’s dry and warm. But before I go, “You are.”

I hear it; and there is no cloud at my lips. No breath. I hold it all in, “What?”

“You are heavy with My beauty.”

Socks and Frizzy Hair
I worship. I don’t care that the patio is wet and cold. My knees are soaked now, too. And I don’t know why I don’t simply lay down like that branch except that I am feeling bare. So exposed. And somehow to lie down would make me self conscious and I want to stay God conscious. Sometimesworship is just all inside quiet like that.
“Emmanuel.” I speak His name because it means, “God is with us.”

“I’m heavy with Your beauty,” soaks deep into me. Plants right there where Holy is formed. In me.

“In me!” I call quiet awe because it’s so hard to believe but I can’t doubt it.

“In you. Like Mary. She was heavy with My beauty.” Oh, the things He says! I’m standing in soggy socks and my hair is hanging wild frizz because of damp air and He’s saying such things! 

And  I’m sure Mary was never more beautiful to Him than when she lay down on damp and cold and perspired and groaned and pushed and her hair was tossed and sticking to her face. And when she was exposed beneath the dance happening in the heavens. The dance of Jupiter and Venus, is what I’ve read. Of “Father” and “Mother” planets colliding slow and sure ‘til they became as one and Jesus was born beneath that light.

“Emmanuel! Beautiful, beautiful Emmanuel.” I drip awe.
Whoever said that beautiful is "Forever 21?" Or flawless skin that takes a bank account? Or every hair in place and "I'm gonna wash that gray right outa my hair?" Probably whoever said cows "moo" and that "chwiiirl" is hawkish scream and not song.
But it is.
I go inside now. My soggy socks leave wet footprints across wood floor. I pad sloggy to bathroom and whoever said that mirrors don't lie? Mine is lying to me right now. Telling me I'm not soaked beautiful, just soaked frizzy! Still, I peel socks off and aim the hair dryer.
And beautiful God is with me.
written by: Carolyn Roehrig