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Monday, November 23, 2015

Dr. Seuss and Dr. Quantum and other Mysteries

The sun hasn't light-waved "good-bye," the moon hasn't rolled away or thudded to the ground, and the stars still answer roll call. People? Well, uh, people are a curious mystery. We are rambunctious humanity bent on being out of hand yet, God holds everything together and sometimes that's astounding to me. Sometimes I want to ask, "How do You do that??"  I know. He's God. I've heard said, "He does it because He can." Sorry, but lame. Surely there's more mystery to it than that.

I do all kinds of things which, if anyone was impressed enough to ask me "How do you do that," I could say, "Oh, well, I do it because I can." Really? What kind of answer is that? I know I'm mysterious, but not that mysterious. I'm woman. That's enough mystery to keep my straight-forward husband, Mr. Strong and Strapping, guessing how I do things like cry at comedies and get the giggles at serious moments. He doesn't ask. 
In Dr. Seuss's world, "whosit" and "whatsit" must be in the dictionary. Merriam-Webster has missed two wonderful words in the "wh-" column and, I think, legit words for a real world full of whos, and whats, and its in a splendor so mysterious that only words like whosit and whatstit can sort of describe the indescribable or at least what we have no words for. I put whatchamacallit in there, too. It works for me, anyway.

Isn't this real world so much more mysterious than we will ever know? And the One who created all the whos and whats and whatchamacallits is as mysterious as His I AM name is. I get how He can hold together what things I know a lot about. I even get how He can hold together what I know a small quantum about. But He holds together stuff that I know nothing about.

Seems to me the mystery of God is more than who He is. Doesn't the mystery of God have to do with the mysteries He's created, like time and dimension and matter and stuff about light and science that goes far beyond the high school biology I took? Forget dissecting frogs. What about dissecting dimensions? Yeah, that's all very mysterious. To really genius people, even. But it's child play to God.

And doesn't the mystery of God have to do with the stuff of heaven and heavenly beings and even the classic mystery about the trinity? There are countless analogies to describe the trinity. It's a perfect whosit.

Probably the mystery of God that gets closest to home is the, "Let's make man in our image" mystery. 

I can almost hear the Father, "Okay, Guys!" Jesus and the Holy Ghost have been waiting for this moment. "Time is divided up and organized, the dimensions are measured out, particles of matter and waves of light are working well together. Yep!"  The Father rubs His hand together in excited anticipation; "I think everything's ready for the people!"

"Okay, Dad!" Jesus must have grinned 'cause He knew He'd be a person one day. "Ready for this, Holy Ghost?"

"Let's do it!" And the three of Them, or rather the three-in-one of Them, made people in their own image.

That's mystery.

That's more than a how did You do that mystery.

He tells how. He breathed life into Adam's dusty nostrils and, voila! He breathed! And people breathed, and we're still breathing! And that's  how He did that.

He gave power to as many as received Him to become the sons of God, not born of flesh and blood but born of God. And people were, and still are, given the Spirit of God for eternal life! And that's how He did that. It's all explained in Genesis and John, and somehow the explanations add to the mystery.

Alright then. Maybe I won't ask how. But I have to ask something because my life mission is to connect with God's heart. To know Him really, really well. And that means asking Him questions and listening for His answers.

It takes time. Time I could spend doing other things that look a little more productive. Truth is, there's nothing more productive to me than paying attention to God, to know Him; and there's no greater reward on this earth than to know that I have God's attention because, guess what? He answers my questions, and so much more.

I don't need to ask how. He's already told me how. And I already know why. That answer has to do with love. So, "What do You mean when You say that You hold all things together?"

"Is that what I say?" He prompts me to go to His word.

I go and, "No, not exactly."

"What, then, exactly do I say?"

"You say that You are before all things, and in You all things hold together." I don't grasp the whole meaning, but I do know that I've been held together in Him and that's more meaningful than being held together by Him.

I'm Held

"Remember when you used to cross-stitch?" He asks and I wonder what that has to do with any of this.

"Yes." Of course I do. I just the other day re-tacked the cross-stitched quilts the church ladies made as baby shower gifts for my sons before they were born, and the quilts I cross-stitched for my daughters before they were born.

I think about His question, and it's uncanny that I should have re-tacked the cross-stitch quilts just days ago, after so many years of not really even seeing them because they've hung on the same wall for so long.

I think, tacks, threading needle eye with floss, cross-stitch needle finding every tiny hole in Aida cross-stitch fabric and pulling floss through, narrow openings requiring spot-on precision, and patterns.

I think further. Nails, Christ just stitched by nails to the cross. He is the narrow way, I continue stitching old news into a new pattern of thought. He is also the precision required for me to enter His pattern. "Oh, the thinks you can think!" (Dr. Seuss).

I visualize the theme I see in this unfolding conversation. I'm getting my answers.

"What do I mean?" He asks me what I asked Him and, as a former cross-stitcher, I know that the pattern is only as good as the stitches.

I hear myself, "You cross-stitched the past and the future into the pattern of the present. The Old Testament is flat out nailed to the New Testament, the one is inseparable from the other because Jesus Himself came to fulfill the Old Testament by the New. And," I continue, "Isn't that what the New Testament is? Isn't the New Testament the fulfillment of the Old Testament by the life, death, and resurrection of the One who was nailed to the cross and lives now and forever at the same time? Isn't this where Life intersects life, and where time is redeemed, and where present moments are complete in the I AM name in whom  'all things hold together?'" (Colossians 1:17)

I remember what He says. I say it back to Him. "You didn't come to destroy the law, or the prophets, but to fulfil. You have said, 'Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled'" It's written in Matthew 5:17-18; and it's answer. My answer comes from His word stored within me.

Isn't the life, and death, and resurrection of Jesus the convergence of, I don't even know how many dimensions of time and space, into the present? And isn't where they intersect also where time stands still and, at the same time moves from present to present to present?

Well, obviously I have more questions than answers, but sometimes it seems questions are more answer than answers! I'm thinking that to stay in the presence of the One whose very name is all present tense I AM, is what the mysteries of God mean to me.

"Ah! That's what You mean! You mean for me to stay present in Your I AM presence where YOU  ARE. This is where all things are held together in You. Oh, yes, I AM," I say to Him, "gladly I will stay in Your presence. I'll turn up for roll call every day just as the stars do!"

He holds everything together. Just by being present. That's good news to the likes of me who practices redeeming time and connecting with God's heart moment by moment because I've learned the unraveling, painful, stitch-popping way that the most secure place is in the here and now presence of the all-present God; and because I'm convinced that every whatchamacallit would just break, shatter, splinter, explode, implode into a trazillion molecules, atoms, ashes, and dust and that light itself would divide into what? Photons? Something like that. And the molecules, atoms, ashes, dust, photons and everything else that I have no idea about would somehow fall apart into chaotic nonsense and nothingness.

 Controlled Chaos

 I passed high school science because the teacher took pity on me. Can you tell? But I have recently learned that I happen to know something about Quantum Physics. Yep! It's because I know something about the Creator. I know His name is quantum physics explained in two words- I AM. His name about covers it all. And I  know something of who He is-Omniscient; defined as "All-wise, all knowing, all seeing."  Merriam-Webster dictionary has awesome words in the "om-"  column!

I'm thinking about the power of the eyes of God. The power that His observation has on the world. Just because He's watching.

What if He wasn't all-seeing? I'm certain I'd lose my way if He wasn't watching.

I've never thought that the all-seeing part of Him might have more dimension to it than the generic, "I'm watching you."

He is watching overall like that, but what about an all-seeing dimension of watching that is interactive? What about, "I'm watching to look out for you"? What about, "I'm watching to guide you because you can't see beyond the next step"? Surely it's not all, "You better watch out, because God's watching every move you make." Just maybe He's watching because He can't take His eyes off His bride and the beautiful world He made. Maybe  He's watching, too, because snakes and scoundrels and slave drivers and sin also inhabit.

I've been reminded of an experiment my sons found on u-tube.

"You gotta see this, mom!" boyhood exuberance.  And this mom hadda see it 'cause I was, and still am, curious about what they wanna show me.

"What is it?" I crossed the kitchen and joined them at the main computer with, most likely, a saute spatula in hand, coated in something dinner-ish.

"Dr. Quantum!"

"Cool!" Never heard of him.

Dr. Quantum came to life and soon the whole half-dozen of us crowded around the computer screen and watched with a dozen wide eyes the Double Slit Experiment.

A cartoon eyeball represents whatever kind of machine physicists use to measure the behavior of  electrons. Thing is, when they weren't being watched, the electrons behaved as if they were what they are not. They behaved as light waves, not as the little particles of matter that they are. But when they were being watched, they behaved as the little particles that they are.

"Wha-a-a-t? How do they know they're being watched?!" Kind of reminds me of these boys of mine. A mother's humor.

Dr. Quantum leans into the camera and says, "The electron decided to act differently, " he lowers his voice to whisper all drama and continues, "as if it was aware it was being watched. "The observer collapsed the wave function, simply by observing." Oh, goose bumps! I shivered.

"Oh, the places you'll go!", says Dr. Seuss.

I never imagined I'd be going quantum in a Contemplations of a Christian Homemaker post. I go to Walmart, Costco, the kitchen, and the laundry room. That's the homemaking part. And I go to God all day long, asking Him questions, listening to His Spirit, contemplating Him. It's not exactly quantum physics, but maybe it's quantum something.

Maybe I can take the example given by Merriam-Webster for how to use the word "quantum," which means "quantity, amount," and tweak it from "the sum of human knowledge is now so immense that even a highly educated person can hope to absorb only a tiny quantum of it," to "the sum of the power of God's presence in my daily life is now so immense that even the likes of me can hope to absorb a tiny quantum of it."

I'm a Christian homemaker who understands Dr. Seuss's whatsits and whosits more than Dr. Quantum's physics. I'm a Christian homemaker who lives aware of being watched not by a powerful camera, but by the powerful eye of God. His presence, His observation, is interactive with His Spirit in me and that keeps me behaving as I truly am- Christian in the whole, "You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus" 2 Corinthians 5:21 sense.

Boy Wearing Blue T-Shirt

God is watching me; and that matters to me. It matters in this dimension, in this real time where what I think, say, and do are lived before this God who can't take His eyes off of me because He loves me. And methinks love is very quantum physics.

God is watching me. This is exhilaration and gladness as I kneel each morning with Bible open and God word on my tongue because He notices and His observation is powerful.

God is watching me. I want His eyes on me. I want to absorb even a mere quantum of His immense love.

So I kneel on this old bright yellow life preserver that preserves my knees as I seek the One who holds me together in Him. It's not the kind of preserver that goes over the head, but the square kind that has straps to slip arms through and hug real tight against chest where heart resides. That's what I kneel on.

I speak His words here; His Word as it's written because somehow in His presence my words aren't so very important.

I listen here, and He speaks His Word back to me.

I connect with His heart here, and He fills mine.

I sing to Him here and I venture to say that praise just all unpolished heart and soul and acapella unrehearsed gets God's attention in a good way.

And, to go quantum time, somehow singing praises to God, and psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to others, gives wide open-door entrance to this mysterious present dimension where I AM is. That's what time, under the gaze of the all present, I AM God, does. His gaze rearranges everything and redeems time itself.

I make my to-do list while on my life preserver. God is looking over my shoulder. He sees me, but even more, He notices me.

Noticing is different than seeing. Noticing is "taking notice of." And I want Him to take notice of me, so I take notice of Him. That's just how relationships work. I can't expect someone, even God, to be head-turningly interested in me if I show little notice of Him.

I show Him my list, and He crosses most things off because He'd rather I spend hours right here noticing Him rather than doing, doing, doing stuff, stuff, stuff. In a way, the double-slit experiment is conducted here every morning in the sense that I make my list of matters; He observes and measures the matters and under His observation they go neatly through the narrow slits and line up to make the pattern proving what they are. Matters. Simple matters.

God is the fancy mysterious light that goes way out there quantum all space and time multi-dimensional. Not me. I'm simply under His observation, noticing Him and being noticed by Him; and only like this am I able to live today as who I am. I am the righteousness of the One who calls Himself the great I AM, through Christ Jesus.

Here is where I go. It's a Dr. Seuss, "Oh, the places you will go" kind of place. It's a Dr. Quantum, "observation and measurement matter to behavior" kind of place.

It's a place where faith, evidence in this dimension of what is in another dimension called hope, is measured and lines up as it passes through the narrow slit called love.

Love is the whole point, isn't it Dr. Seuss? Dr. Quantum may or may not know the dimension of eternal love, but he's proving it nonetheless, I think.

Love passes through the narrow. And what's on the other side is miracle.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Morning Devotion-Take Time To Be Holy

My old red hymnal holds 628 hymns. I once determined that I was going to use these hymns to learn basic chording on the piano given to me over two decades ago and I play with it, but my daughters play it.

Six-hundred and twenty-eight hymns, beginning with "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," and ending with "Amens."

"Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife, joyful music leads us sunward in the triumph song of life," go the last two measures of the opening hymn. And the closing hymn is just thirty amens sung sevenfold.

And then there's hymn 441, hidden treasure.

"Take Time To Be Holy."

I've never seen it before yesterday, I don't know what it sounds like. Yet. But I will, with advance apologies to my family because it ain't gonna sound pretty and yellow therapy dog, whose quirky nerves twang twingy when the piano is skillfully played, will need therapy for herself once I get started!

Well the hymn is, to me, straight path in a world that tilts on it's axis. It's right-side up calm in a racing world upset by those who dare to take time to be holy.

In a world filled with gadgets and industries to save time, this dearest and truest hymn sings out both joyful, joyful triumph song of life and "amens" sevenfold.

Fast Lane

In a world that spins faster than the spin cycle on my washing machine as it shimmies an unbalanced load across the linoleum, and wedges the laundry room door shut and so much for the saving time machine, 'cause by the time we, well, ehem, my strong and strapping German husband, maneuvers the door open, I could have hand washed the load and hung it out to dry; in a world like this I choose to take time to "be fitted for service above" where the only time saver is just all eternity straight up and holy. 

I'm not hand washing laundry, but dishes? Yeah, I am. Ever since a few weeks ago when the dishwasher whirred a speedy hum for one last steamy breathless time. I don't have the heart to tell Mr. Strong and Strapping that another appliance spun and slid right off the edge of this little world called home where, contrary to Columbus' discovery about the big world out there, things just do slip and slide and sorta spin into oblivion because, in here, the floors are flat and I don't know how to repair a spun out dishwasher, don't think it's worth the time to learn how, and I hope my husband doesn't read this post till Christmas break when he gets time to breathe between semesters.

Take Time To Be Holy
by: William D. Longstaff
Taking Time
1. Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God's children; help those who are weak;
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
2.Take time to be holy,  the world rushes on;
Much time spend in secret with Jesus alone;
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
3. Take time to be holy, let Him be they guide,
And run not before Him whatever betide;
In joy or in sorrow still follow thy Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
4. Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul;
Each thought and each motive beneath His control;
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Morning Devotion-Squash

Soggy leaves, pumpkin scraps somehow missed in the clean up from the carving party last week. And eight bell peppers hang heavy and fuller every day as if summer itself was ripe. And ten white blossoms swell all maternity promise of more peppers as if spring, too, was birthing ripe. Mishmash on patio this morning.

I stoop to pick up what looks like the remains of pumpkin lantern. A triangular eye? It's happy mush from oldest son's twenty-fifth birthday celebration.

My three married children with my two daughter-in-laws and brand new son-in-law sat in a circle on the driveway with youngest daughter, niece, nephew, life-long friends and pumpkins and orange carving tools and piles of whatever the slimy strings of pumpkin innards are called. The chiminea burned orange flames that danced as if to the music of laughter and the hum of conversation and so did this mamma's heart.

I'm at patio this morning. Remembering because I'm holding a now rotting chunk of squash in my palm. I shake my head at myself and smile and wonder if whoever thought to make squash lanterns felt as I felt that evening last week, 'cause I felt like I had a candle burning inside the likes of mushy me and it's light just flickered in my eyes and danced right out of my smile to the rhythm of joy on the driveway.

Oats, pecans, honey, sesame seeds, raisins, and pumpkin seeds.  I toasted them in a tossed together hodge-podge on a cookie sheet, and my kitchen smiled all warm and sweet and healthy because that's what pumpkin seed granola is and what it does. Place a tangle of pumpkin innards in the colander, wash the seeds free, and there's something about washing that is freeing; something about saving the seeds for granola that is redemptive.

Well. Fall, spring, and summer are damp on patio this morning. Three seasons at the same time and I think, So this is what it looks like to redeem time. 

It seems to be a fall thought for me. Maybe it's because winter's coming and I want to make the most of the days before the hard ice-storms.

I look up the exact words given about redeeming time, and find them in Ephesians 5, "So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do."

I munch my granola on damp patio stone, barefoot; and my heart is barefoot, too.

"Lord?" Leaves cling damp and thin to patio stone. "I want to be like that. Damp from the wash that bares my heart; thinned by the Word that reveals my true colors."

Fall leaves stick damp. They are bare of chlorophyll clothing all green. Damp leaves, washed by fall itself, bare true red, yellow, brown, and nearly white. It sounds like children's hymn to me; "Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."

I'm nearly white. I look at naked leaf skin all bare on patio and, "Ah, Lord" I exhale breath into the light fog, "I can see the colors of the patio stones and the bumpy pattern too, through the skins of these leaves."

He's silent somewhere beside me in the fog. His silence is naked and bares me.

"I want to stick as leaf sticks to patio stone. Ah," I inhale light fog, "I'm white-skinned, browned by summer sun; and may I be soaked by fall rain, washed bare till I'm clothed by a little color of me and a lot of the color of You; a little of the pattern of me and a lot of the pattern of You as I stick to You, my foundation Rock."

I guess it's an odd way 'round to prayer, but there it is. I want to be pressed as damp leaf to the Rock.

I take a picture. Maybe I'll paint it all water and color damp on canvas. It's a picture of what I long to be; spring, summer, and fall at the same time. Living in and out of season, at the same time. Redeeming time like this because winter is coming.

The bell pepper plants are oblivious to fall. They are summer deepest green, and maternal spring blossom. The tomatoes get it, though. They filled the colander last week and the are done. They are preparing for winter and I can almost hear them call from their beds to the bell peppers across the way, "Heads up! It's fall!"

So it is.

"Make the most of every opportunity," the Lord speaks as the fog lifts.

I set my empty bowl of pumpkin seed granola down.

"Be careful how you live," He continues. "Winter's coming."

I don't want to act thoughtlessly, but full of His thoughts. My thoughts are like tangled pumpkin innards with really good seeds enmeshed all through because the Word of God has planted them there.

"Wash my thoughts, Lord." I'm certain He's holding a colander.

"Separate my thoughts from Your seeds," I picture His hands instead of mine at my kitchen sink just preparing me as a pleasing aroma that will warm His senses like the fragrance of sweet granola.

"I want to understand what You want me to do," I request His command.

"Look at the picture you took." He nods toward my iPhone. "That's what I want you to do."

I get it.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig