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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

When You're Gulping Air till You Crash at Night

A large grasshopper hitched a ride to the high school on the hood of my van this morning. The hair brushing, breakfast eating, shoes-in-hand passenger noticed the hitcher at the stop light, between bites.

"Look at his feet!" I exclaimed because I've never seen a grasshopper this up close. He wore red shoes on long feet that flexed a slow peel off the hood and then rolled back down and stuck. One step taken with the hind right foot. Now the hind left, and it was a toe to heel flex and peel, lift and stick it down, heel to toe. Deliberate, slow, elegant.

The traffic light turned and grasshopper faced the wind, antennae spread wide, and feet suctioned immovable on the hood. And just like that he walked from home to the high school.

Shoes on her feet, the girl with fresh brushed hair walked up the steps to the school and I pulled out of the flow of cars because I had a grasshopper to drop off. I parked, and he turned to stare through the windshield right at me. He did! His eyes were red as his feet. We looked at each other a moment  before I opened the van door, climbed down from the driver's seat, and rounded the hood with the swagger of an officer about to issue a hitchhiking violation.

"Ok, this is where you get off." The grasshopper accepted my finger, and I placed him in the grass amazed that he had made it this far.

"Well," I reasoned to myself, "it's because of those feet."

"Exactly." The Lord must have been quiet in the backseat, and then moved up front to take the passenger seat while I lifted the hitcher off the hood.

I thought in silence about His response. Thought about feet. And tenacity. And walking slow and deliberate on feet that cling to what they're standing on. Sure-footed and sure of the destination until one leg of the journey ends and you are not where you thought you'd be. And somehow where you thought you'd be seems farther away than ever, but, gee, "I sure got here fast! How'd that happen?"

"Exactly," He reads my thoughts.

Red Running Shoes

That's where our conversation left off, yesterday. And where it's picking up again, today. Those sticky, flexing feet have me thinking about what I cling to. What I'm standing on and refusing to be blown off of even when the wind is forty-five miles an hour in my face. Forty-five miles an hour, antennae-splitting speed, and he seemed to enjoy it!

I know what I cling to for life. No matter what speed life flies at me. It's been tested at Autobahn speeds, and it's simply faith. Faith. And hope. And when there's wreckage, somehow I become even more alive just all tenacity to faith. It's because faith is becoming to me more of what it really is. It really is substance that I can cling to just as surely as that grasshopper clung to the hood of my van.

Faith is real when the rubber meets the road; and faith never crashes though life may screech metal on metal.

I think the grasshopper had some storm-chaser in his blood, and I relate. Someday I would enjoy riding shotgun in a rigged truck chasing an F5 tornado. It's my wild side. I doubt I'll ever be chasing tornadoes, but I cling to faith when life blows like one. So I track down faith.

I'm a faith-tracker, and storms just make it seem more urgent to take hold of faith and cling to it. It's real and substantial and can be held. It's what I read this morning, "I have set the Lord always before me...I shall not be moved" (Psalm 16:8).

I cling to the Lord with sticky feet. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith, and I'm finding rest in this. Rest in faith, and, "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope," the Psalm continues. It's true.

Stick to faith, and rest in hope.

I'm practicing. Daily. Hourly. I track down reasons that substantiate hope, and find that I can just rest in hope. I track down faith and become more aware of it. Of Him, the faithful One. And truly, living by faith is restful. It makes for gentleness, gladness, and peace. It changes the pace of life, inward and outward. It redeems time.

"You are showing me the path of life," I follow the verses in Psalm Sixteen. I'm resting in hope, and I feel it. I feel the restfulness.

"My yoke is easy and My burden is light," I hear the faithful One.

"I feel it, Lord." And I do. "I have more time, somehow." And I do.

I suppose I'm becoming less busy working to achieve what I hope for, and more occupied with just believing. I'm not burning rubber and skidding on faith in pursuit of hopes, and gulping the air that blasts through rolled down windows till I crash at night. I'm just breathing easy. It hasn't come easy, but through practice. I have practiced.

I didn't know I was practicing a new way of moving through life. I just knew I needed belief and trust. Needed faith that hope can depend upon; faith that doesn't dangle and swing mid-air and light as air, but that is sure and secured by the very nature of the One who is faithful. And I needed it like I needed the next breath if I was to take another sane breath in this life. And when I saw that grasshopper walk like he did right in front of my eyes, I knew it when I saw it.

Red Feet
I woke this morning a bit tangled up in sheets cast askew by dreams that tangled me up into the shape of a pretzel. So much for elegance. I'm still processing some things in the shadows.

I turned open the wood slatted blinds, because light chases shadows away. And there it was. Long shadow, cast down. Just cast on the ground, on the fence, on the neighbor's roof top. Cast down because of light.

"Oh," I just breathed.

"Mm-hmm," He breathed just behind me.

"And come high noon there will be no shadows at all." Because that's how it works with light. It casts shadows down and erases them. I'm going to watch it happen today.

"Cast all your cares on Me, for I care for you;" His morning tone embraced me.

"Graceful as a grasshopper," comes to mind. Silly thought left over from yesterday, but catchy. Well, it is for the likes of me. But I'm good with deliberate and slow. I'm okay with one day at a time. One step at a time. I'm the one who was chided playfully by her grandfather for how many times I wrote, "I can hardly wait for..." in the letters I sent him when I was a child.

But that was before I bonded with a grasshopper.

written by: Carolyn~Elizabeth

Monday, October 13, 2014

Manna Mamma of the Wilderness

I'm looking for the joy full and the glory full. I can't describe it, but  I know it's not what met me at the back door this morning. I kicked a snail from her home with the bottom of my bare heel. Crunch. Eviction. And she became homeless just like that.

I bent over to apologize and and found her nose to nose with the front end of a geko whose back half was caught between the door and the floorboard. I made my ammends to snail and gingerly took geko hand so tiny between my thumb and index finger. It dangled dead and where does one dispose of a dead geko? The garbage can is heartless. Well, what about where the zucchini used to live? Yes. Perfect. Geko and I pass the kale and, no, I don't find glory there either. A rabbit stripped it down bare sometime in the night.

"Remind me here, Lord. What did we just read this morning?" I stare at kale remains, the geko swings dead from my fingers, and I've just increased the homeless population.

"I have turned your mourning into dancing, and put off your sackcloth and clothed you with gladness, to the end that your glory may sing praise to Me and not be silent." He reminds me and the humor takes me. I try not to laugh. It seems irreverent at a time like this. But, "O Lord my-y Go-o-o-d," escapes my lips all laughter, "I will give thanks to You forever." I remember now what we read. It was Psalm Thirty.

The sun set in explosive fire last night. Cows yawn this morning, birds laugh, hawk circles, and Yellow Dog grins. Just grins everytime she opens her mouth. And once I step away from the back door and wash geko from my hands, it seems everything is dancing and praising.

I'm looking for what, earlier this morning, the Lord said is so. I'm looking for it on purpose. Looking for the sway, and the praise. And the hawk keeps circling, and leaves tango to their own music, and car motors slide modern with the radio on. It's street dancing, and I 'm waiting for a daughter who hops on one foot to keep balance while putting a sock on the other foot. It's all there. Here. I'm finding it everywhere. And surely there are many dances I don't see, praise I don't hear, yet. But I will.

I'm looking for joy and glory. Because I'm outgrowing the shell I've been living in and I invite joy to evict me from the curled up position. I want to stretch out on the back porch of glory, skipping the geko part. It feels a little daring to me to want this. I've just been curled up tight inside for so long.

Do I dare uncurl? Expose my belly soft? Do I dare open myself? Open my eyes sensitive and my soul kind of afraid? Is mourning over? Is it?

I believe it is. I've believed that before, at least enough to uncurl a little. But it was premature. And I knew it. I did. I just wanted it to be over so badly that I ignored the evidence that said, "It's not over, yet."


 But now? Consistent evidence is uncurling me. Faith-substance of things I hope for is stretching me. I'm yearning for the dancing. Reaching for the gladness. Extending my fingers palm up to hold the songs, and my vocal cords to sing them.

I'm listening for glory praise and if sunsets sing it, then surely I heard it last night. And why should the sun which is a "what" without a mouth, not a "who" with a mouth, sing out glory and set down with joy when I'm a "who" with a perfectly good mouth but am not using it to sing out glory and joy because I've set down silent? Why? Because I've set down like that and forgotten that even when life is overcast, I'm still a light in it. If only because God says so. It has nothing to do with what life looks like to me or whether things are sunny bright or not. It has everything to with Who life is and what He says about my place in it. In Him.

"I'm going to set out, and set down, singing, Lord. And not just in my closet." Yeah. I admit it. I sing in the closet. "And I'm going to dance, Lord. I'm going to dance-walk from room to room to the music that my German with Jewish blood in him loves to play." It's courageous declaration, and I hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew. "Help me to respond to what we read this morning." I tag this on to the end, because I can't do it without His help. We're in this together.

I'm setting out to sing glory in the kitchen loud enough to be heard over the stove fan that clicks on because the onions are carmelizing into smoke that the vent can taste. I wave wooden spatula, sing some more, and add kale which pops kind of dangerously in the heat. I'm still singing while  measuring broth that pours sizzle into a burst of steam. I think I've just created my own weather pattern over my stove top. Spatula scrapes wood on cast iron and I'm still singing 'cause I'm daring it. I don't look to see who is within earshot, I hope the praising vegetables cover me, but I also hope not. Because I want to sing praise glory unapologetically even if it brings a cry from my fans.

But it doesn't. That's the thing. They don't object. Or judge. Or turn on the "real" music. No. They just do their homework, or whatever they were doing before this glory happened in the kitchen. And, sometimes they sing along. They do! And that's when my heart gives thanks, "Forever, God! Forever! I want this forever, just to sing with glory, to dance with joy, to give You thanks like this because I'm uncurling somewhere in-between because there's substance to it! I feel it!"

Praise God! Joy and glory are substantial. Real. Sturdy as cast iron and they can take the heat like cast iron. too. Because they are the fire in the sunset, the popping kale, the sizzling broth, the color of carmelized onion, and the cloud of steam that somehow draw me up to believe. Draw me up from snails and gekos before breakfast to "Yes, Lord! Gladly I will let joy evict me from shell" song by dinner time.

If anything in this kitchen gets passed down to my children, it'll be the cast iron. And faith that responds to what Jesus says is. They'll eat from it. They'll eat bread like the flat bread I fry on cast iron, and sometimes they'll look at what's in the pan and ask, "Manna?", because "manna" means "what is it." It won't be the first time they ask it. They're  probably asking it right now as they watch the cloud that's formed over the stove, hear the fan try to swallow it whole, and mamma singing in her apron that's embroidered, "Home is Where Your Mom Is." Yeah, the kids are asking, or maybe exclaiming concern, "Manna in the kitchen!"

Clouds and Rock

Thing is, our life story was written in the wilderness where Israelites reguarly watched a cloud form mysteriously in the day time and a fire swallow it in the night time over a desert hot enough to fry eggs on. This is the first place where the word, manna, is mentioned.

Imagine that.

I'd be asking "Manna?" about more than bread that is wafer thin and just materilizes on the ground and tastes like honey. I'd be saying, "Manna?" when bitter water was made sweet when a branch was tossed into it; and exclaiming "Manna!" when water gushed right out of a wounded rock; and I'd be known as the "Manna Mamma of the Wilderness."

I add meat to the pan. My story has been written. It's been passed down from the Israelites to me. To my husband. To my children.

And I know what the story is about. I do.

I read about it.

I'm living it. 

written by: Carolyn~Elizabeth

Monday, October 6, 2014

Looking for Reasons to Hope, Not for Ways to Survive

Shadows rest luxurious long this morning. Sleep in late on a bed of green while yellow dog sticks rump in air and nose in brush pile. Tail wags flag, and a slab of sunlight through slat of fence points the hour out across shadow that sleeps and sprawls across fence height and width like the German's limbs across the king-sized bed.

Yellow dog tail points straight attention and the Pointer in her shows till she looks like an arrow poised on three legs because the fourth is pointing to squirrel, of course. She darts full awake and oblivious to all that sleeps-in drowsy this side of fence. The back side. But this slab of sunlight persists like the illuminated hand on the face of the clock that hasn't heard the alarm yet. It stretches through slats from the other side; the side that's all awake and knocking at the gate, "Wake up, back there!"

Well, yellow dog belongs on the other side of the fence this morning  because we're just warming up back here. Just stretching off the night till shadows lift, and I sip coffee half-way down the mug.

A few leaves fall lazy. A web reaches long extension from lowest tree branch to highest eve and insects the color of air and size of dew just float uncaught by web,  but caught by sun. And caught, too, is a branch that fell out of the tree sometime last year and it's been straddling the limb that caught it ever since then. It just dangles there like Huckleberry Finn would straddle some limb in some tree and swing his legs happy and fearless.

It's quiet. I'm quiet. God is quiet. Yeah, yellow dog is galloping and grinning and I hear the neighbor shutting car door and motoring to work and somewhere from pecan woods an ax splits into echo. But it's quiet, still. I'm at peace.

College girl can't find her keys, so she borrows mine. And then I can't find her keys, so high-school junior girl has no way of getting to school. We're sharing cars. She's waiting and the second hand on the clock is wide-awake nervous jitter just all "Mississippi-one, Mississippi-two" count down till she's so late for first period that she might as well skip it. She does.

And I'm at peace.

That second hand can jitter like it's had too much coffee and it can just spring right off the face of time if it wants to, but I've just sipped long shadows from the back-side of time this morning.

And I'm filled with peace.

It's palpable, peace is. And this tardy junior feels it. It's like I fetched peace in the backyard and brought it inside like yellow dog fetches morning from the front-side of fence and brings it in. It's like that. I've fetched peace and junior girl sees it and just sets aside her book bag, retrieves the French Press and presses out gradual the Haitian coffee she smuggled from summer mission trip to Haiti. Yeah, she did. Right past the noses of the security dogs at customs. Maybe one day she'll smuggle Bibles and Haitian coffee is just practice.

Book Bag

Thing is, this morning is all about peace. Fetch it like a retriever and bring it inside because seconds tick off fast and this world is spinning and staggering and lurching on leash, but God's hand holds the reins and real time ticks out the beat of His heart, not mine and not the "60 Seconds News" channel.

I don't listen to it, the news. I admit it. Maybe I should, but I hear enough of it second and third hand to keep me glued to the "Eternal Edition," to know what's going on in God's heart and in the country I'm a citizen of. It's just that I need to keep Him and the news of His kingdom ever before me because one day there will be some who want to enter His country and to live in His eternal kingdom, but have let their heart beat in time with this world and they won't know what time it really is until it's too late.

It happens just an off beat here and there. Just an extra pump of the way life beats it out on this earth and there's prolapse of mitral valve in soul. I know what it feels like, because I have a mitral valve prolapse and surely there's connection between the anxiety my soul feels and when my heart beats extra.

Make the Good News both base line and bottom line and faith will pump it out grand and real. I must, lest my soul beat out what faith doesn't recognise. Lest soul beat out pragmatic, subtle counterfeit currency and I become like the many I'm warned about in Scripture. May I not sip at faith like I sip morning coffee just half-way down mug and say "yes" to be marked, indelible currency, and sell my faith for a loaf of bread. That's what pragmatism does. It reduces those who buy into it to sell themselves for a loaf of bread because they forget in a prolapsed moment that they were bought by the Bread.

I know I have a mitral valve prolapse. I may prolapse into pragmatism. It's deceptive, and I'm quite capable of becoming deceived. I am reminded of this every time I hear a preacher polish out how God doesn't want me to be uncomfortable and if I am, then it's not from Him.

Seems to me that faith isn't meant to be shiny, but well worn; and may I never question the faith of a brother who suffers disease, or who is caught in a long web, or languishes depressed, loses financial freedom, suffers injustice, injury, insanity. Because it's likely that those who suffer are the ones who actually do faith. Not just have it, but do it. Likely that those who bear the scars of doing faith are they who hope with every heart beat in the Bread whose heart hemorrhaged on the cross and sold Himself for their salvation. They never forget that bread doesn't come nicely wrapped up in the bread isle but from grain that falls into the ground and is ground up.

Miller's Stone

And it seems to me real faith rises up from places called, "into the ground," and then becomes ground on the miller's stone and here I say it in sanity and real, "You have overcome the world; overcome me!"

"I will make you as manna and many will say of you, "What is it?" The Miller grinds it like that and, well, that's fine because I'm looking for reasons to hope, not for ways to survive. Looking to gain a good testimony living faith out real because there's nothing counterfeit fake about the testimony of a faith that's been tried and tested and comes out hope full. And in His kingdom right here at the back-side of the backyard fence, and right now in Him in me, there are scars we bear and there is peace.

I am at peace. Just peace.

Because there is peace in faith that is tried and found real.

Peace in the absence of prolapse, exhaustive proclamations, counterfeit claims all aimed against the very trials meant to prove faith real.

I am at peace because I'm not looking desperate for ways to survive, but looking for reasons to hope and finding, "Faith is the evidence and substance of things hoped for but not seen" (paraphrase of Hebrews 11:1). I am at peace when I find this in the very trials and triumphs that validate my hope.

This is the real thing.

Nothing counterfeit.

Everything well worn up.

And I'm in it, waking up on the back-side and a little worn rough this morning; but in it like this just looking for reasons to hope.

And finding peace. 

written by: Carolyn~Elizabeth Roehrig