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Monday, January 18, 2016

Ice Crystals and Fireflies

The car used to be free of crumbs. That was back when the car was a four-seater car and not an eight-seater van; when we had one child. The rule was, "No food in the car."

Then we had two children. "Can we have some crackers?" The firstborn could talk by then. "Cracker?" His younger brother knew that word.

"No-o-o," I'd coo. "No crackers," I was teetering on the fence and they knew it when I began to explain, "They're crumbly, see, and they'll stick to your cheeks all soggy ick." Pause. "I'll pack some carrot sticks."

It's a slippery slope from there.

Then we had three children. Baby sister sat on my lap at the breakfast table while the boys ate toast.

They chewed their toast into the shapes of pistols and opened fire across the table till they collapsed against the backs of their booster seats, limp and laughing, mouths full of half-chewed toast.

No toy guns allowed? I had no idea. I had boys. They got plastic pistols for Christmas that year.

I loved seeing pink booties and baby-doll dresses in the laundry. Yeah, sometimes I'd shake out cracker crumbs before dropping the dresses in the washing machine because, well, I was packing crackers.

And sippy cups of juice.

And, uh, M&Ms just sometimes.Whoever said the chocolate doesn't melt in your hands never had kids. The candy-coating melts first all sticky red, blue, green, and yellow. Then the chocolate melts.

I started packing wet-wipes.

Somewhere in there we sold the car and bought the van. And we had a fourth child.

More pink in the laundry room. More stain-lifter, too.

The fourth child doesn't know what a van looks like without a few wrappers, Ziploc bags, water bottles and, yeah, crumbs.

Well let's be honest. I had a small pantry in the back of the van and stopped short only of can openers and a Bunsen burner.

The fourth child is a high-school senior now. She drives to school when she has time to. Mostly, though, I carry my mug of morning coffee and her glass of water to the van; and she juggles her backpack, a bowl of cereal or a plate of eggs and toast, her mug of morning coffee, and a hairbrush to the van.

Crumbs? So beyond that!

I don't know when I began packing pink lip gloss, mascara, perfume, and scented hand lotion in the console of the van. And hair pins. Oh, breath mints, too.

Her sister and brothers are married and living near-by. Seems to all of us that she has a rare case of early on-set seniorites which affected her three years ago when her sister graduated.

Maybe I'm feeling a touch of seniorites, too. Maybe this explains why I'm perfectly happy to drop everything on a dime to drive ten hours to Taos to ski with my high-school senior and this happy big German husband of mine who's watched me grow up with our kids and who is himself cured of that pesky habit called planning.

The three of us arrived a mere fifty-eight hours after the decision was made at the family dinner table.

School? Hmm. I recall that we did talk about the days of unexcused absences our girl would have, on top of the tardies accrued from last semester. I think it went something like this-

Me- "Can you skip school?"

Ms. Seniorites- "Yeah."

Me- "Let's do it!"

The happy German was already on the phone making reservations.

Food in the van? I'll just say that in the time it takes to top off the gas tank, Ms. Seniorites and I sprinted into the gas station convenience store and came out with ice-cream drumsticks.

Ice cream cones

It's early morning, by vacation standards. I'm sitting on the kitchen counter to peer outside the window over the sink. The cabin is small, and this is the only window where I can draw back the green curtain just a bit without disturbing the sleepers.

The sun kisses the clouds awake, as a mother would kiss the sleep-flushed cheeks of her young children and as children might gaze sleepily into their mother's bright eyes, so the clouds seem to gaze.

"You are to me as the sun must be to the clouds." I gaze sleepily into the eyes of my Father.

The sky is what stillness is. And what depth is. The color blue wouldn't have recognized itself in the color of the sky, if it were possible for blue to see. So blue. Nearly purple. So profound. Seems to me the sun glows because she's held in the embrace of sky deep enough to find her joy in.

"You are to me as the sky must be to the sun. I find myself in Your depths." I worship.

The clouds are still this morning. They will rest still until a breath of wind from the heavens stirs them. Then they will stir. Swirl. Find their rhythm. They will move as the wind blows, where it blows, as fast or slow as it blows and they will be shaped that way.

 The sun lifts the shadows off the snow; and the snow, blanketed by itself, blinks awake all glint and sparkle.

"You are to me as the sun must be to the snow." The light of His eyes makes me just sparkle alive. His light just does that!

"Live in My sight," He reminds and urges me.

"Your eyes are so deep," I'm transfixed.

"Live deep in My sight." His words are to me as wind is to the clouds this morning. His words stir me.


I long to live deep alive in His sight.

I long to bring His joy, His care, His very living, breathing holy Self to others.

I long to sparkle His light all wide awake and beautiful to those who sleep in the shadows.

I watch the shadows lift from the snow, and the tiny crystals begin to shimmer a dance before the shadows slip away, and I'm reminded of the fireflies that dance at dusk in the summer.

"See that, Lord?" I know He does. He's the One pointing it out to me. Sometimes He does that just because He delights when I exclaim, "Did You see that?!"

The dance is as effortless as play. It just happens because that's what snow crystal and fireflies do as shadows lift and fall at twilight and dusk.

"Did You give us snow crystals and fireflies to show us how to sparkle with joy deep and alive with no more effort than it takes to do what we are made to do? I ask the One who once said, "Let there be light," and commands, "Let your light so shine."

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

What is this light of mine which may shine so, if not both the reflection of His light on me and the radiance of His light in me?

"Your light is to me as the sun is on snow crystals and as bioluminescence is in fireflies." It's just not burdensome to shine like that. It's really not!

Sometimes it's not simple to do good works. Sometimes it's difficult; but isn't that okay? God didn't say it wouldn't be difficult at times.

"Difficult isn't the same thing as burdensome;" I hear His reasoning from His word. It's written on this page I've just turned to.

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to  all who are in the house." This is what He says right before "Let your light so shine."

I read it and hear it as, "It's no more burdensome than lifting a lampshade." That's it.

If I find myself lifting weights and working up a spiritual sweat as I try to kindle a flame or create bioluminescence somewhere inside my being in order to shine, then I'm probably striving to make my own light. That's burdensome.

May I remember that I already have everything I need to live a-glow; to  shine the light of God in all I do.

He shines His light on me! "Just stand here and let Me shine all over you," He says.

He put His light in me! "This is yours to have everywhere you go," He says. "Play with it!"

"Play?" Why is that word so hard to pronounce? "With holy light?"

Funny. I can picture God playing with His light. He does it all the time. I'm watching it from this kitchen window. I'm watching His sun, the same sun He made when He said, "Let there be light." He skids sunlight over the crystals of snow because the sun is in His hand to play with like that.

I can picture children playing with light. Some magnify it and burn piles of leaves on the sidewalk with it. Hmm. Yep. I won't say whose children I've seen doing that.

I watch fireworks on the fourth of July, and waves all transparent gold-green wrestle near shore, and lightening roughhouse, and colors of light play wildly day and night all rainbow and aurora borrealis, and I've seen light dagger through icicles and explode in full prism, and light halo softly around a full moon and maybe this-all this-is what He means when He says, "Play with it."

Craft Supplies

Isn't light, His?

Maybe the way to experience light, and to learn how to live in light and by light, and to shine light and to be lit up by light, to touch it and feel it. to move in it and be moved by it, to watch it and to interact with it is to play with it.

Isn't this the way children learn about all kinds of things? Including light?

Might a mother give her children paper plates, crayons, scissors, popsicle sticks and tell them how to make pinwheels? Might her children run around with their pinwheels held high and watch the colors blur happy? Might could be!

And what about making shadow stories in a darkened room behind a sheet lit up with a light bulb?

Or what about punching holes in index cards, lining them up, shining a flashlight into them and learning that light travels in a straight line?

What about holding a firefly in cupped hands and watching light move around?

"Ah!" I'm getting it.

"Yeah," His smile lights up His face. And mine. "I am the light of the world! My path is straight. I move joyful blur.  I am all color. I mix light on the palette of air as you mix paint on your plastic palette. I am light in you, on you, and you radiate My light without even knowing it."

"Kind of like ice crystals and fireflies!" I exclaim, all child.

"Kind of like ice crystals and fireflies," He nods.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Connecting with God's Heart-A Devotion

The Lord says, "What good is it for a man to gain his life, but loose his soul?'

He says. "It's harder for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle than a for poor man; harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

He says, "Seek My kingdom first, and I'll take care of clothing, feeding, housing you."

He says, "Let a young man enjoy the bride of his youth."

He says, "Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs."

He says, "Watch your enemies turn against themselves, and destroy themselves in utter confusion as you sing of the glory of My beauty and holiness, saying, 'Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.'"

He says, "Arm yourselves with the helmet of salvation, the girding of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith."

I say, "Amen!"

I say, "I'm grateful, my Beloved Bridegroom, that my married children wed young, in the prime of their youthful strength.

I say, "Thank You for inviting me into increasingly regular fellowship which deepens at every gathering."

I say, "Sing to one another!"

I say, "Sing to the Lord of hosts!"

I say, "I love true fellowship more than a good eight hours of sleep!"

I say, "Marvelous to be freed by the truth of what our Father says about how He promises to care for His children."

I say, "Marvelous that  our armor isn't money or popularity or beauty or anything that can be bought."

I say, "Oh, Lamb of God, does it hurt when You hear people exclaiming with an air of victory that salvation is a free gift? It wasn't free for You to give it. It's a costly, priceless gift."

I say, "Praise God, for His mercies endure forever!"

He says, "Love Me."

He says, "Love others."

He says, "Do what I've given you to do, in the Spirit I've given you to do it in, and the fruit of your labor will be rooted in love.

He says, "If the fruit of your labor isn't rooted in love, there is no profit in it."

He says, "You are as a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth fruit in its season."

I say, "I delight in Your Word and will meditate on it day and night."

I say, "Lord, prosper my branches till they are heavy with the weight of much fruit."

He says, "If  you have much fruit, but have not love, it profits nothing."

He says, "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

I say, "I have every substantial reason to live for all hopes and for final hope, because You give faith.

He says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I say, "May I build a good testimony by it!"

I say, "Love is the Living Water in whom I am planted. You nourish me as a river of water nourishes a tree.

He says, "When you bear much fruit, you will be humbled. Are you willing to be humbled?"

I say, "Humble me till my branches bow low and heavy with the weight of the fruit of Your glory; the fruit born from the waters of Your love."

I say, "May Your love be found in the core of the fruit; heart-center."

I say, "Gifts? Talents to invest for the sake of Your glory and my fulfillment? Yeah, I desire that. But, however fervent my desire, may my pursuit of Your love be more fervent."

He says, "May the desire you have for fruit be the desire which drives your pursuit of My love."

I say, "That's my prayer. Thank You! You just gave me my prayer!"

He says, "Outside of My grace, it's impossible."

I say, "Plant me deeply, root me down, may my death be Your renown.
             Plant me by the riverside, grant me resurrected life.
             May I bear Your fruitful seed which You gave upon that tree;
             May I grow and prosper great, bowing low 'neath glory's weight!

             "Blest is the man whose delight is in in Your word day and night.
             He does not sit, nor does he stay where unrepentant men may play.
             He shall stand in the light, a tree that grows at riverside;
             Jesus, may that man be me!"

He says, "Drink deeply from the rivers of water and you will bring forth the fruit of My seed.

I say, "Ah, yes! Love pours out from the throne of grace. It must the the River of Life.

I say, "Did that river spring forth from Your mortal side as proof that You had died?

I say, "When You were laid in the grave, did the surge of love's resurrecting power dislodge the sealed and guarded boulder at the mouth of the tomb?

I say, "Your love is River of Life to me.

We say in agreement together, ""And so, now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

We say, "Amen! It is so!

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Connecting with God's Heart-A Devotion

What if, sometimes, I met God and began, "How are You doing this morning?"

I say, sometimes, because relationships are dynamic. I can't say I've ever had a friend who never begins our conversation by asking me how I'm doing; and I've never been a friend like that, either. At least, that's what I thought before this morning.

This morning the Spirit prompted my visit with God with a familiar prompt, but He spoke it differently. I heard it differently.

I heard, "Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning," prompt from Psalm 143:8, not as, "I want to hear Your loving-kind words for me this morning," but "Your Lovingkindness, I'd like to hear Your lovingkindness."

Isn't God deeply emotional? He is. I have as many names for Him as I have descriptions of His character. This morning I add the name Lovingkindness.

"Lovingkindness," I began, "how are You this morning?"

Maybe I've never asked like this before because maybe I've always assumed that I know how He's doing. I'm thinking that's a pretty arrogant assumption on my part, seeing as how He is God!

Maybe I've always assumed that because He is so great and powerful and complete in Himself, and that because He loves me so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die, to really die, in my place because sin leads to eternal death and He doesn't want to see me utterly dead, that He, therefore, has no need to share anything other than what things are centered on me and how I may live a repentant, resurrected life in Him.

I desire to live for God. I need His righteousness to live for Him.

He has given me His righteousness, and more. He has made me His righteousness, just  so completely through His Son, that I may agree with Him when He says, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

All true; "But," I ask myself this morning, "has my desire to live for God actually short-changed my relationship with Him?"

Its an odd question that I don't really know how to ask because how can living for God, by His righteousness, short-change my relationship with Him?

I'm grasping for an answer as impossible to hold onto as wisps fringing a sailing cloud.  I can't grasp a wisp, but I've felt clouds low and "on the deck" before. They feel cool, damp, refreshing. And there's a different wind inside them. A different breath.

I've touched wisps of clouds before, and if a wisp can whisper, then I'm touching a wisp and hearing myself whisper, "You, You, You. You are great. You are powerful. You are complete in Yourself." I pause a breath here, and an unfamiliar wisp of a thought sails just within my grasp.

"Ah," I touch it barely and timidly, "I need You," I take a breath, "because You want me."


I can't grasp a wisp, but I've felt clouds low and "on the deck" before. They feel cool, damp, refreshing. And there's a different wind inside them. A different breath.

I hear God breathe confirming words, "I loved you first."

What does Lovingkindness have to say?

Just what is on His heart?

What would He like to share with me, for His sake?

How many thoughts, ideas, feelings is He bursting at the seams to share with me just because they are in Him and He likes talking about them?

I ask Him, and He doesn't answer with the popular, "It's all good!" Others do. And when they do, I confess wanting to challenge, "I didn't ask who God is, but how you are doing."

Do we tend to hide behind the light of God when we're asked how we are doing and respond with who God is?

I can't hide in the light, but if it's blindingly bright I can. God's light is so glorious that not only can I hide behind it, but if anyone looks straight at it they die.

I don't think God ever intended His light to curtail fellowship. No.

Yet, isn't that what happens when "How are you doing" is answered, "God is good?"

I need to stand in His light, not hide behind it.

I need to fellowship with other believers in truth and light, not use the truth of who God is as a curtain I draw closed against fellowship.

What if I answered, "How are you doing," with, "Thank you for asking!", and then followed up with, "I'd love to share with you, but there's probably not time right now. Do you have time to get together this week?"

Stand in the light like that, all curtain drawn wide open welcome, and watch fellowship happen.

God must be pleased with responses that open the way for fellowship; and all the more as the Day approaches.

"Lovingkindness," I address Him this morning, "what's on Your heart?"

He answers immediately, "Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart, nevertheless you shall not build the temple" (1 Kings 8:18).

I didn't scratch my head and say, "Huh? What's that got to do with it?" I didn't. Yeah, the Spirit speaks strangely at times, but He makes clear what He's saying.

I heard clearly, "You do well that it is in your heart to honor Me. Your intentions are good. Nevertheless, I have ideas about this."

Funny. He comes to my aid, just like He promises, when I ask Him what's on His heart.

God has ideas to share. Emotions.Thoughts.

He has so many things to share!

He doesn't use words to put me off when I really want to know what's in His heart and on His mind.

I'm starting to trust Him with the heartbeat of my life enough to come to Him to ask Him what's on His heart.

I want to know Him for the sake of knowing Him.

Yeah, I also want His direction in my life, but I have that. He just has given it and always will give it because that's what He does.

Maybe I'm starting to see a bit beyond what I want from Him and starting to just want Him.

Maybe I'm trusting that He will supply all my needs; that He knows all my thoughts, everything I do, what's on my heart and that He is involved.

What if I begin focusing our visits together on connecting with His heart more than on telling Him what's on mine? Oh, I'll make my requests known to Him, but with thanksgiving because He already knows.

Make requests of Him like this, and the weight of the requests will not be consuming.

Share the thoughts of your heart with Him and with this kind of thanksgiving, and you'll hear the whisper,  "You do well to share with Me what's on your heart."

Requests made with thanksgiving are really confessions of His trustworthiness.

That's calming.

His direction, "Do this to honor Me, not that. This is for you to do; that is for someone else I have in mind," will be heard in the calm.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Connecting with God's Heart-A Backyard Devotion

The words and works of God are inseparable.
He speaks things into being.

What He speaks, is.
This is the power of praying His word! It's the power of praying what's in His heart! These are the prayers that always get answered.
He promises us that His burden is light. The more I connect with His heart, the more I know this is true.
He tells us not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our minds. When I fill my mind with His thoughts, He unpacks my heart.
He unpacks the things that make my heart heavy. It doesn't mean the weighty things go away. They are still there. Some of them will be there for the rest of my life. Some of them will be resolved. Some of them will grow heavier. But that's okay. It really is okay! As long as they are placed where they are supposed to be, and that's not on me.
"Cast your cares on Me;" says The Lord, "for I care for you."
What if I cared for Him as He cares for me? My heart would be light, that's what! The heavy burdens that take up space in my life, wouldn't! They'd be taken up by Him!
Let's fill our thoughts with God's thoughts.
Let's connect with what is in God's heart, and disconnect with what isn't in His heart.
Let's fill our hearts and minds with His desires and thoughts.
May our prayers be occupied with everything He says about His way for life. The things that would have their way in our lives will be put in their place.
As I give placement to God in my thoughts and desires, I stop thinking so much about burdens, and about the desires that I have for them to be gone, and about the plans I would make to see that happen.
As I give placement to God in my thoughts and desires, I'm free to pray what is in His mind and on His heart. Pray like that and you can't help but to pray with Thanksgiving!
This is what I call having peace that transcends understanding!

Written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig