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Saturday, May 31, 2014

I'm Waiting for More Than a Zucchini

Firey petals. Watery sun. Seedbed favoring life. And fire favoring it, too. It glances at me. The yellow bloom from under foliaged lashes. A bright-eyed peek that catches my own.

I peek and draw breath in. She is pregnant, this bloom. Just blossomed out radiant. And I am expectant. Because this fullness will deliver baby zucchini!

I am only gardener. Have only peeled back blanketing soil and opened up ground and buried seed there; and pulled the blanket back over. And sun pooled there. Pooled like water and fire and that is God mystery. And it took life! The seed in the seedbed. The ground pushed opened and one day the seed began to show and today it blossomed out large and full-term maternity gown in color of fire.

It seems to me that life comes through fire. First words from God tongue, "Fire orb in sky!" Because life comes after, through, by way of, fire. And I myself was delivered as my own children were delivered. Conceived by way of fire and born through searing orb of fire.

I am proud gardener of baby zucchini! Well, it's not here yet. But it's about to be and I'm waiting outside the garden bed where it will be delivered.

The bloom presented sometime last night. I saw it large when I woke this morning; and by evening it had changed out of flowery yellow maternity dress into drab gown. It lies atop garden bed. Exhausted. Waiting for the birth. And I, gardener and mid-wife, check the progress. No zucchini yet.

I wait as those expecting wait.

With prayer. It's just talking to God and listening to what He says. That's prayer. And really, it's mostly just listening to what He says and then saying it all back to Him and listening to what He says in response to Himself.

This is prayer. It's getting to know who God is. What He's like. It's becoming familiar with what He says and what He's most likely to say because it fits Him. Really prayer is learning how to talk to God in His own tongue 'til my tongue speaks His language and 'til we sometimes finish each others thoughts.

I've decided to spend my life waiting like this.

"Teach me how to pray," I asked God eighteen years ago on my knees beside the first couch my German and I bought together. I asked right there like that after walking five-year old kindergarten son down wooded creek path to school.

I asked. And waited. And learned. And asked and waited. And asked and waited.  And I'm still asking eighteen years later. Still learning. God is faithful. I've made this my life purpose because, God. Is. Faithful.

And because His grace, not my will, sticks.

Walking to Kindergarten
The blossom is lying there atop blanket, but covered in sun sheet. And I'm thinking about what I read on another sheet of light, "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives." And, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered"
(1 Peter 3:1,7).

And this blossom lies there next to the vine that bore her up and honored her and remains at her side and they both wait for this grace of life. A zucchini from Mr. and Mrs. Zucchini.

"What husband obeys every one of Your words?" I ask God while I wait.

"If you should suffer for righteousness' sake, then you are blessed." He sort of answers my question in a "don't look at the speck in your brother's eye" kind of way. I get it. And I'm seeing what He's saying in a whole new light.

The subject of suffering for righteousness' sake and of being blessed and, further down sheet, "Have fervent love for one another," and "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling."

Somehow I hear it, "Be hospital to one another." Hospital. Because we've suffered one another and are heirs of the grace of life, together. And hospital is needed because of suffering and birthing and grace and life.

It's true. I've suffered. My German has suffered. May we be hospital to one another. Wait quiet and gentle while the grace of life is birthed through it. And may I just stop saying, "But God! I don't want to lie down. I want to stay blossom! Forget the zucchini! Forget the fruit!"

Just once I'd like to hear Him say, "You know, you're right! Let's just forget the whole thing!" But, no, I really don't want Him to say that. That's not God. Really I want to hear what He says. It's just all calm word, "A gentle, quiet spirit is precious in My sight. Wait like this. All quiet. All gentle. Think delivery room. Wait like that. Wear it even when you're in drab gown. Then you are blessed." This fits.

Zucchini Bloom
The thing about all this is, I'm waiting for more than a zucchini.

I'm waiting because the Creator who grows zucchini and grows me has peeled back what blankets me and has opened me up and buried His life there.

The thing is that He's expectant Father waiting to see His resemblance birthed from me and it comes through labor. It doesn't come when I'm radiant in bright maternity hope and gown. But after exhaustion.

Perspiring faith.

Because of hope.

Because the Bridegroom is the Father and He has that look of utter devoted and fervent and tender love all over His face as He waits while I push for what I hope for. Push it right out of faith.

This isn't about living pretty, but about laying it down. It's not about the glance of bright blossom, the coy beneath lashes, but about the letting go and letting fade and, yeah, I'll say it. It's about the dying. The dying to myself and laying myself down like the zucchini blossom while the One who planted Himself in me waits to see Himself come out of me.

He waits to see the Grace of Life come out of me. 

He's not waiting for zucchini like I am, but He bends over like I bend over vine. And His life will crown right where His life and mine join. His life will take hold right where I give mine up. It must be, because that's what I'm seeing right now as I bend over the vine, pull gentle back skirting leaves and wait to see zucchini crown there.

His life. His glory crowns. His glory presents through fire. And it's water and fire and all God mystery His life in me and mine in His. And the fruit, the zucchini, is ours.

And I like the sound of that. Ours.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Monday, May 26, 2014

When Whole Bean Faith Goes Through the Grinder

I pour the Costco-size bag of beans in Costco-size coffee grinder in the coffee isle there. The machine rattles beans and whirs grind and vibrates bag 'til ground up beans settle down into it. It slows to a long jitter. I wait, hand poised mid-air, to rescue the bag from machine hands that won't stop shaking. But what can I expect from a coffee grinding machine that's ingested nothing but coffee all day.

I retrieve the bag and do it all over again. That bag is Seattle Mountain Decaf. This bag is Texas Pecan and it's caffeinated. I pour the beans in the back of the machine and muse while it shimmies because it's shaking something up in me and it's a little uncomfortable. Can't put my finger on it, but it's just the violent trembling.

Thinking about it now, I can separate the pieces and poetically say that I was feeling from the machine what I've felt in myself before. Uncontrolled trembling that becomes shaking 'til I'm shaken out and seized down. And maybe so, but it didn't occur to me then and all that matters about it is what came out of it. Not the coffee grinds but the, "Um, God?"

And the,"Hmm?" He sounded like He had a mouth full of Texas Pecan brew just fresh sipped.

"What is this?" He doesn't follow my gaze because really He waits for me to follow His. And when I do, "What is it?" is my usual response. It's an industrial size coffee grinder. I know what it is; but what is it?

It's an inside-out question. It's one of those "what 'n' why" questions we're so used to carrying inside, so familiar with how it feels inside, so accustomed to searching for the answer that we can't find words to ask the question.

I find words when I follow His gaze. "What is it?" And "Why?" I stand in front of this grinder and what is it about this whole process? About cutting open the bag, spilling the beans right where they will be ground. Placing the empty bag beneath spout, attaching it there so that it will shake and shimmy and jitter 'til it's filled up with grinds? Then taped shut?

What 'n' why?

We're standing in front of the industrial machine and, "My friend Lazarus," He begins, "fell asleep. But I woke him."

"You woke him from the dead," I smell the coffee.

"I wept."

"Then You woke him from the dead." I smell the coffee.

"I wept," He repeats. "Selah."

I know that word. It means, "Stop and think" in lay-man's terms.

I've been thinking about "Jesus wept." Thinking for days because I'm a slow learner, in a good way. I really have come to appreciate slow. Even in learning. Because slow growth has deep roots and I want deep roots and nothing weedy fast. And fruit. And, yeah, beans count.

I think about it while scooping some of the grinds into separate plastic containers I store on the shelf above the mugs in the "coffee cupboard." One container is labeled "decaf." and the other "caf." I reach for them each evening in preparation for morning coffee.

"Jesus wept." Why? What for? Not for Himself; He knew He was going to wake up Lazarus. Not for Lazarus; he was about to be resurrected.

The usual answers are good enough for me. That He wept out of compassion for Mary and Martha. That He wept because He grieved their lack of faith. That He wept because, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live," was answered with, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." And with, "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?" Wept because those making the accusation against His level of compassion and priorities were the very ones whose own eyes were blind.

And the blind can't see His tears. And I have been among the blind. I have, I am grieved to say.

But Selah opens eye. It's "stop and think and brew the grinds" Because sometimes faith just falls asleep. Just lies there all bean pile in a bag. Until it's gone through the grinder. And faith just can't absorb holy tears 'til it's cried some tears of it's own because the grinder hurts.

Coffee Cupboard

I pop the lids off plastic coffee containers. I store the grounds like this because Costo-sized coffee bags won't fit in the cupboard. It's fragrant.

And shouldn't ground up faith release fragrance? If it's real, then it should. It just unapologetically should. Because prayers fill up bowls of incense in Heaven and what is prayer without faith?

Perhaps the most fragrant prayers are released essence that wafts from faith all ground up and that absorbs Jesus tears and lets the wet filter down through heart of faith grinds 'til the vessel is full of wet faith essence that can be tasted.

Faith is the evidence of things hoped for but not seen. And can I just absorb "Jesus wept?" Just let His tears soak straight into my heart 'til I pour out essence all fragrant? Until I drink down His pain and forget my own long enough to wake up and pray through the pour and pour out the prayer and then anticipate hope? 

Anticipate hope. And "anticipate" is "ante-caperer" in  Latin. It means, "take captive beforehand," and in Latin-based Italian, "caperer" is root word for "capire" which means "to understand." Can I understand because of faith before I see hope?

I can if I handle faith. Maybe I'd be more spiritual if I believed what dare I hope for without seeing and touching and tasting and feeling. But truthfully, I'm kind of like Thomas. I need to feel. It builds faith and "ante-caperer" hope.

So I handle it. And faith is prepared every evening in my kitchen. Yeah, at the coffee pot. And hope is anticipated there, too. And not because I'm a coffee junkie. I'm a half-decaf, one cup sipper. But after dinner dishes and after wiping down counters, I lift out coffee filter and dump the used up grounds down sink disposal. The day's grind at day's end, poured out and that's that.

I remove glass pot from bright red coffee maker and rinse it clean inside 'til it's ready to be filled with fresh in the morning. I take plastic lids off plastic containers. One labeled "caf" and the other "decaf" and the "caf" is the Texas Pecan and the "decaf" is whatever and that's what I think about decaf. anything. It lacks; but I lack, too.

I smell it. And measure it. And touch it. And anticipate. Ante-caperer hope of joy in the morning. I take hold of joy beforehand. Because I'm told it's fresh served every morning, no matter what was in the grind that I dumped at sink the night before. The garbage disposal grinds the grinds and swallows and doesn't complain or judge.

I snap lids closed on plastic containers and coffee maker and that's the last thing I do in the kitchen. It's act of faith. And I'm living the Selah pause because Jesus wept over lacking faith. And my faith lacks, too. But in the Selah his tears absorb into my ground up faith and I need this. Need Him to cry over me.

It sounds selfish, but it's just honest need and just the only way for my faith which is made whole only when it's been through the grinder, to look like what my hope is. Only way for faith and hope to saturate together and amalgamate into one full essence. Only way for pain and joy to absorb into each other. Only way for this miraculous essence to fill me for release. For release through prayer to fragrance Heaven itself. For release though pour to fragrance earth places where I live. Starting in my kitchen where mugs are set out and so much pours out in the kitchen.

I anticipate this essence. Anticipate while I measure out grounds and touch faith like that. Anticipate joy in the morning. Because He says so. And because He anticipated it, too. And proven it.

Real faith. It has substance. And maybe I have to keep reminding myself of what real faith is because I confuse faith with hope. I've believed enough to be saved; but believe right and live as one saved. And the only way I can live it real is to touch faith real. It's a hands-on faith. And if it looks like a bright red coffee maker with a see-through pot, then that's good enough for me.


I haven't yet brushed teeth and pulled up sheets, but I can hardly wait for morning. Because no matter what. No. Matter. What. And there've been a lot of pain-full "what's," but never mind. Because joy comes in the morning. It doesn't lean on what's going on in my life; but on what's going on in The Life.

I pour coffee this morning. Yellow dog mouths raw-hide and I say, "Let's go pray!" She nudges me down the hall and lies quiet at feet while I lay all at God feet. I'm filtered here. His essence fills this pot, and today I will feel His nudge to pour out. And that's faith, too. Feeling the nudge. Faith to pour out Living Water essenced in the filter where faith is not whole bean, but ground up fine and fragrant by the hard and for the "ante-caperer" kind of joy.

Mary's faith got all ground up. And Martha's faith. And my faith has been all ground up, too. I thought it was whole bean faith. But it's not whole 'til it's all ground up.

Somehow pain and joy, and faith and hope absorb into each other and there is Selah moment before the pour.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sometimes We Just Have to Lie Down to See Big

Earth’s star melts at horizon lip. Just melts like the ball of butter on stove top, and pours all gold and orange and red over ocean pan. I pour butter rich yellow and dinner pasta is ready.

But this sun! Impossibly perfectly round as if gases were solids. Impossible how the moon is rock that rises in thin air and the sun is gas and even part helium, that falls. Every night.

We watch ‘til it  pours melt all rich light at the end of our shore and about 1.3 million earths could fit inside it. It just melts all over the ocean ‘til it’s gone. We watch it sink. Watch it slowly come down as if someone poked a hole in it and the helium is leaking out.

We eat buttered noodles for dinner. Then walk starlit sand. Our steps string together behind us and the stars string together above us and the waves string together, too.

 I laugh a little giggle that I’m happy to say only God Himself hears, because I really don’t want to have to give truthful answer to, “What’re you laughing at?” God doesn’t ask, but, “It’s a noodle night!” It just popped into my head the way things do sometimes because it is a noodle night and it started with a plate of buttered string.

I stifle and restrain because I’m a grown-up and my German is a little lost in his own thoughts. My thoughts a stringing hilarity and I’m trying hard to tie them down. Trying to amaze serious about the night music some skilled and unseen musician is playing. Strumming the waves ‘til they vibrate their song and play right out under the stars and God finger. I manage. For a long moment.

But our girls. They have a bit of the play in them, too, and I jump clean out of my skin when they jump out from behind me. And our steps in the sand are lumpy noodle and our laughter somehow tangles up in the wind and sings out over wave song and it sounds good.

The “instagram” girl borrows dad’s i-phone to take a picture of the stars. Three tiny dots of light show up on black screen. Pin-points.

I wonder now as I have before, “Did You make the stars to remind us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses? Are they witnessing our play? Are the stars the eyes of Heaven?” I think it silent and the picture taker is searching for the Big Dipper.

She lays down in the sand to look up higher and see wider. I lay down too. To be low and small and feel it under high and big. I help her look for Big Dipper and find Orion instead, but I’m really just helping me find humble.

And daughter who doesn’t want to get her clothes sandy, lays down too. Not on the sand. On sister. And it’s a stack of sisters looking up at the stars in laughter.

And me? I blurt, “Big Dipper? Big Dipper!” frantic-style as if the sighting would  sudden fly away somehow.

“We just had to lie down to see it.” Profundity from the college girl.

We just had to lie down. Just had to get small. Low. To see the Big.

I recognize the theme. It was theme in the coming down from forth floor balcony earlier and walking clumsy through sand and slanting lower down beach where it slopes lower too, down to ocean edge. And lower still into swirling foam. And still lower where waves crest high. And deeper, too, ‘til I was just shoulders and head.

“Yeah,” I said a little afraid and a little adventurous, “the surf is a lot bigger down here than it looks like from balcony!”

I feel it’s strength and am humbled by it and am holding it.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” and “Come down from balcony.” I heard it together. And hear it again. Now. “Come down. Go lower. Wade deeper. Lie down. Flat on back. And look up.” How He speaks!

“And inherit the earth. And the sand. The ocean. The melting all over earth and sky and water. The sun. The stars.”

I am in awe. Awe-stuck and struck down with it. By it. Because awe strikes us down to humble.
Moon Head

Moon. Moon head crowns at horizon and she births it. We watch the birth ‘til moon is full delivered and covered red. And it just floats up. And who ever thought a rock could float up?
The red runs down spill to ocean edge. Just pools there. And moon fades to deep orange. Floats higher and what’s this? Path? Across ocean? From this shore to that end of earth horizon? The waves themselves are still now. And the path is light.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…” the hymn comes to mind. And what to do with feet and path? It’s lit.


I would walk right on the water pathway all lit up.


The path it lit narrow on dark ocean wide.


The bidding knocks me a bit off-balance. Because the One who gives us clouds of witnesses cheering us on all star sight in dark night; and the One who spills on earth crimson from highest rock; and the One who strums waves into rhythm and beat and cadence is the One inviting, “Come.” It pleases Him.

All this pleases Him and I’m finding something out about all this.

His delight is my strength. His delight. Is my strength. It’s more than what I’ve thought before. My strength is more than to delight in the delightful One. It’s also just to give Him delight.

“What delights You?” I ask it new.

“Come down from balconies. Walk awkward in loose sand to ocean edge and let the lap lick your toes clean. Hear My voice in the crest and flow. Wade in knee deep. See the ocean line up to give and give wave after wave.” This delights Him right now.

It’s just not complicated to give Him delight. It’s really not. What’s complicated is to delight ourselves. This gets complicated. Because it’s never what we think. Not really, in a never changing way.

I stand at shore line and the outer froth of wave tickles my feet. And I can feel the sand pull out from underfoot, even here.

“Pull it all out from underfoot,” I dare pray. “Pull out from under my feet shifting sand. Shifting joy. Shifting peace. Shifting trust.”

“Stand on My Word.” He speaks it and I take a step back and there is no imprint there. Nothing to show for my being there at all. That’s how fleeting joy and peace and trust are when I’m being tickled by whatever is froth on this earth shore.

I’m getting it, a little.

“My Word is like a hammer that breaks rock in pieces.” I just read it in Jeremiah 16:29 and I dig my toes into those pieces of rock because that’s what sand is.

“Your Word leaves mark.” I remove sunglasses to see brighter and squint down length of beach all pieces of rock hammered by wave after wave. By deep calling to deep. Word calling to Word. And this long shore line has been marked by the call. Is being marked by the moving water and the call.

“Mark My Word.”

I put sunglasses back on. I’m a tad slow and sun burn is threatening while I stand here trying to get what He’s saying. And He’s saying it in so many ways!

“Mark Your Word?” I move my feet and there is no mark there and soul feet are sinking into this. “You mean, mark it for real?”

“Bookmark it. Ink mark it. Pencil mark it. High-light it.”  He’s spelling it out clear because He doesn’t want me to get a sun burn. No need for skin to chaff when Word is like fire for real chaff.

I’m back on balcony. It’s shaded and I have pen in hand and Word on lap. And here it is. In Jeremiah 23:16 and 18 and 28-29 right where we’ve been having this exchange.

“Who has marked My word and heard it?” And, “What is chaff to the wheat? Is not My word like a fire? And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”

“Lord, there is still so much chaff in my life. So much that isn’t fine wheat. That isn’t pure staff of life. Bread.” I wish this balcony was lower.

I mark it. With ink. “There. Nothing but Your Word will break stony heart. Turn the stones into sand because sand sifts easy and I want to shake it out from my soul and let the wind carry it away.”

I stand up and shake sand from beach towel and let the wind carry it away from this balcony height just to show myself what it looks like. And I’m marking His Word in the shake.

“Where else? How else can I mark Your Word?” Because shaking that towel was very satisfying.

Shaking Out Towel

“Keep shaking out towels.” He does so speak my language!

It’s a lot to think on. A lot to absorb. But I know how to absorb the sun. I just lie still. And the sun marks me, tan, hopefully. It’s how to absorb the Son, Word of God. Lie still. “Be still and know that I am God,” is how to absorb the Son. And He marks me.

“Yes! I didn’t get sunburned!” No balcony today!

I charge at cresting wave and taste salt water and my sunglasses are spattered ocean sprsy. And “Ballyhoo!” It’s happy ruckus in ocean roar and “What delights You?” is question asked by those who come down from balconies just because they want to know the answer.

I’m coming down. Becoming one of those today. One of those asking just “What delights You? Just what?”

I’m asking not for the broad, “You delight Me” answer. I know that much; really I do. And it’s a plenty big enough answer and life changing to know. But today I see people surely delighting God without even knowing they are. Without even knowing Him at all. But surely He is delighted to see men, women and children all made in Father, Son, Holy Spirit image and creations of His joy so fully enjoying His stuff.

I see it today. Two little girls dig plastic orange shovels into beach sand. Two little boys dig real shovels several feet down ‘til only their heads are visible. And four young ladies wade out deep and laugh and “hoo-ha” like I did with my daughters, and four young men toss  a football in waist deep ocean.

And those my age. Just lie in sun chairs and visit all laugh and smile and walk at ocean edge and, well, not a single forty something woman is as uncomposed as I make myself today.

But there it is. The joy of the Lord marks me and I can blame my undignified larking on His joy. Blame my noodle thoughts and giggle from last night that I was a little embarrassed about for some reason, on His joy. He’s marking me and I’m marking His Word and these marks leave imprint that last through everything.

Today I watched the para-sailers and got all caught up in it and told my German that I would love to para-sail except that I fear my heart would just fall right out of me and plink into the ocean and that would be the end of me.

So I jump waves. Charge them. Dodge jelly fish that dare not sting me because I’m just all too happy for that and feeling that this…well…”Does this delight You?”

 “Yea-ah,” His voice bobs. And I think He’s jumping waves with me.

I laugh inside picturing God jumping waves and think that I just don’t want balconies. I want low and deep and to wade into His joy and feel it surge.

And to be marked by it.

And to trust the way He marks.

And to lie still, too, to be marked by His peace.

And to be knocked off balance simply.

 It’s not complicated.

I’m struck down humble by simple.


written by: Carolyn Roehrig