Noticing, Day 22: working backwards

Today I noticed how the sweetgums and poison ivies are taking their habitual lead in donning autumn attire, flaming out from among their more reticent deciduous neighbors.

Virginia creeper, too, apparently.

Virginia creeper, too, apparently.

Is this a case, I wonder, of God giving more honor to those that lack honor?

Whether it is or no, each fall I’m stunned by this glory of what is being brought to an end. (How much more, then, will what is permanent have glory?)

And as I think of that, I’m reminded of this quote from C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I noticed a Facebook friend sharing earlier this week: ” . . . when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead . . . Death itself would start working backwards.”

Every time I read that last bit, I get excited. Jesus Christ was killed in our — the traitors’ — stead, fulfilling and yet overturning the age-old order of things, reversing the death-sentence under which we once walked and granting the glory of permanent life as adopted children of God to all who believe in Him.

I notice that this is more glorious than the sweetgums.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 21: doing

Today I notice that NOTHING I do is EVER perfect.

1. That isn’t the sort of thing I’ve been trying to notice this month.

2. That isn’t new information.

He calls me to let go of my doings and rest . . . .

He calls me to let go of my doings and rest . . . .

But, y’all, I’m not perfect, and I don’t do perfect things. I misspelled a word on a literature test study guide — not just any word, one of the words in the title of a poem; and not just misspelled, but put a completely wrong word — and accidentally included a quote from our last exam on the test I gave today.

And I know it has something to do with the fact that I took too much time off from carefully preparing this past week, but it also has something to do with the fact that I’m generally flawed and fallen. So that even though I’d like to project and feel that I’m a thoroughly put-together teacher, an example in all my ways and materials, I’m not permitted to do that. Because it isn’t true.

I’m a doer. I always have been. No matter how much you tell me that it isn’t about what I do at all, that ultimately I CAN’T do enough or do well enough, no matter how much I try to believe you, there’s a corner of my soul that continues to be sure that my doings are what give me value, that my doings define me.

That, friends, is idolatry. Because it isn’t my doings at all; it is all Christ. I am valuable because He values me. While my doings only ever earn me death, His doing on my behalf gives me life and defines me. When I put my doings in the primary place, I put them in the place of Christ. Another doing that deserves death.

And so He reminds me: NOTHING I do is EVER perfect. He doesn’t do it to hurt me; He does it to drive me to Himself. This is grace. He calls me to let go of my doings and rest in what He has done.

Because even though I can’t do perfect things, the perfect God loves me. Because even though my doings are never enough, never good enough, He defines me as precious — not because of my doings, but because of Himself.

This God, His way is perfect and His all words prove true. 

I notice, and rejoice.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 20: but He did

This is a sprig of a beautyberry bush, genus Callicarpa, species americana.

beautyberry 2

I’ve decided that October is the perfect month for noticing, because it seems that everything is lovely in October.

Whenever I start noticing the colors of this world I get to inhabit, I think of a line from a Sandi Patty song on one of my childhood cassette tapes:

He could have made it black and white, and we’d have never known.

Think of it: God didn’t have to make colors. Even in black and white He could have dazzled us with lights and textures:

light

He didn’t have to give us eyes at all. He didn’t have to equip our skin with sensitive nerves to know the difference between pine bark and a baby’s skin, to recognize where a breeze blows and where the sun bakes. He didn’t have to fill the world with music and tune our ears to catch it. There was no requirement that we should taste food or smell flowers. But we do.

If He had chosen to make us senseless blobs in a dark, bland, silent world, we wouldn’t have known the difference. But instead, our days are crowned with glory and honor as we walk through a creation which screams His majestic name.

And, surely, this glory is more than we deserve: a more-than-sufficient gift for a less-than-sufficient people whose sins cause creation to groan in bondage to futility. Surely, there was no need that He should give us more than the glory allotted in the here-and-now. He didn’t have to become one of us, didn’t have to clothe Himself in our sins, didn’t have to die on our behalf. But He did it, rising victorious from the death which would have held us, securing glory for our hereafter as well as for our now.

Is He who made the beautyberry mindful of us? Oh, yes; yes, He is.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Day 19: rest

Today I noticed how luxuriantly long minutes can be, spent beside a campfire on a sunny afternoon.

I noticed white flowers with purple middles.

flower

I noticed knee-high corn volunteering in the fields where the corn stubble was plowed under a few weeks ago.

I noticed little boys racing one another after church: the likely victor lost the race in order not to lose his pants, demonstrating the necessity of having priorities and sticking to them.

I noticed kind faces, and pleasant greetings, and the wonderfulness of coming home when you can feel the weariness settling all along your spine.

I noticed that it is good to rest, and was grateful because we can rest: He has done for us all our works.

noticing©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 18: boys

Today, my brothers had a paintball game in the woods around my house. They used to do this fairly frequently, but it has become a rare occurrence.

these are paintballs

these are paintballs

Fourteen boys [men] of various ages and sizes assembled with all the trappings of war: masks and guns and ammo and camo shirts and brave boasts.

I noticed how familiar it all was, how at home I feel among the brothers and their friends and the war-trappings and the tales of glory gained.

They came up from the battle sweaty and covered in paint, displaying welts and scratches, beaming with the excitement of it.

And though my part was only to watch, the excitement was catching.

I noticed — not for the first time — how glad I am to be the sister of brothers.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 17 (and Five Minute Friday): long

The Five Minute Friday word is “long” at the end of a day which I’ve noticed as long.

another shot, of another October, because it is long

another shot, of another October, because it is long

The rest of today seems obscured behind two evening hours spent by lamplight in a living room with open windows, reading a book and listening to the thousand night-voices outside: crickets, cicadas, frogs, coyotes, owls.

Long days seem to accentuate longings; they leave me feeling stretched and empty.

But in answer to our longings, we have assurances:

The long lovingkindness of our God — from everlasting to everlasting.

His long knowledge of us — from before the foundation of the world.

His riches long stored up for us, hidden for ages and generations but now revealed — Christ in us, the hope of glory.

He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good. Today I notice this, and I am glad.

noticing

Today I join Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crew to write on her prompt: long. Click the button below to visit her sit and read more about it.
Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 16: make it new

Today, I notice that Ezra Pound’s injunction to “Make it new” in writing plays out well in the English-language essays of students who are filtering their ideas through a different first language, drawing on thesauri and online translators to assist in the process of self-expression.

Strangers to the rhythms and habits of English, yet familiar with the rules, they produce wordings which startle with their strangeness as they delight with their aptness: “warm nest feeling” replaces “cozy” and  “eye gate” stands in for boring old “vision.” Language is enriched by the substitution, and these students, trying so hard to simply make it, succeed brilliantly in making it new.

And so I notice that the babbling of Babel, that thwarting of a grand design, has become a gift rather than a deprivation. It should be no surprise that in His taking God gives, that in His forbidding He allows.

So that rather than being bored with one language the whole world over, we can constantly be astonished at the places where languages meet — not only by the beauties of languages new to us, but by the beautiful newness of our own.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott