Five Minute Friday: middle

bridge

I don’t remember the first time Daddy shared it with us, but it counts among my earliest memories: the rough sketch of two cliff-tops and the chasm between. “MAN” on one side, “GOD” on the other; in the middle the sins that have made a separation between us.

Daddy drew a stick figure on the “MAN” side. And he would ask how we could get across.

Depending on the context, people offered suggestions: praying, going to church, being obedient. Daddy drew them as bridges. But they were bridges that could not span the gap — our righteous deeds are as filthy rags, and we can’t get to God by doing good things.

To trust yourself to any of those bridges, Daddy would point out, led to death. “DEATH” — the wages of sin — lay at the bottom of the chasm.

So what are we to do? Ah, in the middle, Daddy drew a cross, spanning the chasm. “JESUS,” who died for our sins, taking the death we earned, to bring us to God.

And how do we cross? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

The Bible says that there is only one mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ. A synonym for “mediator” is “middle man.” How thankful I am for this Christ who stands in the middle, interceding for me, giving me the free gift of eternal life.

middle

Linking up with Kate Motaung today to write on her prompt, “middle.”

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

i’d be twins

img_0176“You see my finger?
See my thumb?
See my fist?
You’d better run!”

He shook a muscled fist in mocking threat, and we made feint to run, watching the twinkling blue eyes under the salt-and-pepper flat-top for the next joke. Forty-something years of dairy-farming made Grandpa’s hands thick and strong, and the rough-handling of life left him laughing.

“How are you, Grandpa?” we’d ask. And maybe he’d been hugging his heart-shaped pillow after that long-ago bypass surgery, or maybe he’d been fumbling for a pain-pill, or maybe we’d just watched him struggle to transfer from wheelchair to recliner on neuropathic feet. But he wouldn’t let-on that he was hurting: “If I was any better, I’d be twins!” he would grin.

Cue remark from one of the grown-folks in the room that one Grandpa was quite enough to handle!

When my daddy was a boy, Grandpa’s hands beaned a bull between the eyes with a fence post, because said bull dared to chase my dad. In my memories, those hands dig fence posts, grab my toddler toes, hold Grandma’s hand — across the yard, across the parking lot, in the car, in their chairs at home.

He always joked that Grandma let him be the boss once a week — Fridays, usually — if he behaved himself. But behind the raillery was romance. He kept the nickel she gave him when they met — “Call me!” — for long years afterwards, so that he could even show it to me, the eleventh of forty-six grandchildren.

We approached his seat at the head of the long table in the kitchen where his eight sons and five daughters — our parents — had eaten their childhood meals with reverence, “Yes sir” and “No sir” ready on our lips, pleasantly apprehensive of his teasing, but certain of his love.

“Why, it’s the prettiest girl in Mississippi!” he’d exclaim. (I was the only granddaughter from Mississippi.) “It sure is good to see you!” When I was tiny, he called me “Stacy Lucindy.”

In the hospital two weeks ago, he was still glad to see me, but he didn’t reference Mississippi or my name. The IV pole had a faulty line and kept beeping and beeping, the room was hot, my baby hungry. I let other people do the talking — habitual for me — but didn’t follow the conversation very well.

Then he asked it: “What did you marry?” Classic Grandpa. I don’t remember what was said that inspired the question, but there it was. He knew me, and recognized my little family with his usual teasing. We caught the moment on an iPhone screen: an old man in a hospital bed holding my baby’s hand. Root, meet fruit.

It must take time and distance to be able to sum up a life. I’ve had one full day and the distance between Florida and Mississippi. There are too many things to say and too few words.

My baby won’t understand all the ins and outs of the large family tree from which he springs, but I’m pretty sure he’ll know that his mama had a good grandpa.

Because she did.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

 

Five Minute Friday: connect

When the red tulips in the blue teapot are fully blown, and outside freezing rain collects white on rooftops and cartops, and the baby sleeps, at last, across your lap.

img_2308
January the sixth: Epiphany.

The wise men came out of the East after a star, and here the wisdom of God took the foolishness of man — astrology? divination? — and led them on into what looked like greater folly: God, born of a virgin? Deity, wrapped in helpless humanity?

We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.

Our Western mindset — reason! logic! — leaves no room for such connections. “Correlation does not imply causation;” stars and babies occur without reference to one another; and we cannot, by scientific experimentation, make God incarnate, if we believe in God at all.

Yet God grants faith, even in the midst of such folly: “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one may boast.

Jews demand signs, Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God and the wisdom of God. And it is God, only and always God, who can open our eyes to see Him.

girls

So maybe I took Kate’s Five Minute Friday prompt as the loosest jumping-off-place for my post, and maybe I wrote for more than five minutes, because my soul needed it, and maybe I’m going to link up anyway, because it’s a way of connecting now. But if you want to connect to other posts on this prompt, that pink “connect” button is the one for you. Happy New Year!

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

Five Minute Friday: now

Now.

img_2112

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this [S]on . . . .

Thank you, Richard III. (And also Shakespeare.)

I read this morning in John 16:
You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you (vs. 20-22).

I read those verses also on the day my son was born, when I had gone from mind-numbing pain to immense joy at sight of a damp bundle of arms and legs held aloft by the doctor at 1:36 a.m. A human being has been born into the world!

So, too, Mary felt, at sight of her Son? A human being, and also God-with-us? The culmination of a long labor that began in the Garden when a serpent asked a woman, Did God actually say…?

And how many times, in all the centuries of waiting, did one and another ask and wonder: Did God actually say that the woman’s Seed would bruise the serpent’s head? Because our heels are bruised, and that promise in the Garden was a long time ago.

And now we wait again for His return, tempted often and often with the age-0ld question, feeling the ache and anguish of the in-born curse.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

God actually said that.

Take heart now. He has overcome.

sip-sip

Linking up with Kate Motaung for the last Five Minute Friday of the year. The “Now” button above will take you to her site.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

happy returns

I don’t remember what it felt like to wake up that morning, the one rainy Saturday of the entire fall.

How do people live through such days? Days that you enter knowing they are going to change only everything?

How does an indecisive, usually fearful girl keep on, one step and then the next, toward voluntarily making a forever promise? How does she still have an appetite?

It must be grace, must it not?

Grace that on a morning when I might have felt panicked, rushed, and full of tears, I felt an immense calm.

Under the raining, we were wrapped in a warm glory, and I remember being amazed by how many people were there, and I remember that my face hurt from smiling.

I haven’t the words to write the meaning of a year of marriage, even if I knew the meaning, which I’m not sure I do. But the same grace that gilded that very first day has touched every day since.

I remember that my hand trembled in his, and that I laughed and cried through the vows. And that we were so very glad.

We remain so.

 

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

October

eyes

The last three years, ’13, ’14, and ’15, I participated in 31 Days of blogging challenges during the month of October. I had this idea that I would do it this year, too, but do you know what happened instead? I went the entire month of October without publishing one blog post. Not one.

And I love writing October: the way the light comes more golden and the sky comes more blue. The gradual giving way of green to shades of gold and brown. The way that I seem to find my footing in whatever new rhythms have begun in August and September. The inevitable nostalgia of fall, making me yearn for the things that are past and binding my heart to the things that are passing.

But now it is November, and I’m typing with eleven weeks of wonder asleep across my lap. He’s added five or six inches and seven or eight pounds since his arrival back in August, and I feel them in the ache of my shoulder blades and the small of my back, and in the ache of tiny clothes — was he ever that small? — which were put away under the bed yesterday.

I’m learning the rhythms of wee-hour wakings, of diapers to be changed and laundered, of housework and errands done in the intervals between the every-two-hours meals which he continues to need. I’m learning the joy and the cost of being needed 24/7.

And I’m writing: not with pen or keyboard, but all over a human soul who can’t yet say the simplest word, filling these first pages of his life, and living definitions that will haunt his later years. It terrifies me.

As he comes to fuller understanding, will he see Christ in me? Is it gospel which I’m living, life laid down for him? Will he see that the things I say are true by my doing?

He is too young to make allowances for moods and weariness in me, but old enough to feel if I am grumpy or impatient. And it doesn’t lie with me to summon joy when, lulled to sleep for the fifth time, he wakes again just as I’m settling to sleep myself, urgent in his cry to know he’s not alone. I love him excruciatingly, but I. Can’t. Do. It.

And yet I am mightily helped, daily thrown upon the grace of my gracious Father. There is never enough of me, yet He multiplies my meager loaves and fishes, keeps my oil jar supplied, spreads manna — morning by morning — on the ground around my tent.

My baby opens blue-gray eyes with a smile in them for me. This also is grace.

My Shepherd is the Lord. I shall not want.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: listen

listen

Beside this window there’s the occasional drip from the rained-on roof to the air conditioning unit. Jays in a tree somewhere close by. A baby breathing. Clicks of the computer keyboard. My husband tapping a rhythm while he studies in the other room.

 

I’m still learning the sounds of this new house — the dogs that bark in the early mornings, the school buses and garbage trucks. Wheels on our gravel drive rather than next door. Car doors in our driveway rather than across the street. Ice falling in the freezer. The hot water heater cycling on and off. Light switches and door latches. The hurricane of our bedroom fan. The noisy quiet of the air conditioner running. Trains passing. Sirens on the highway. Our doorbell. The flame under my teapot on the stove. Canada geese passing overhead.

And the baby’s voice. He doesn’t talk yet, but his voice is behind his contented sighs and behind all his crying: hungry or hurting or angry at being alone in his crib. I love his voice.

Quiet is my natural habitat: I love to listen and to see. And I love that this little person is going to break through all my quiet habits with noises of his own.

listen

Linking up with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday to listen today.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch