Five Minute Friday: full

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The skin of my belly is taut and smooth, bearing the red lines of its stretching, and I can’t see how it could stretch more. I have to stand up slowly and calculate my motions to put least stress on a stressed hip tendon. Inside me, a little boy stretches and pushes, running out of room.

However we measure, and however long it takes, I know these are the last days of this pregnancy — I’m eager for THIS to be the last day — but there is evening and there is morning, the 278th day, and we wait.

Writing to the Galatians, Paul says that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” (Gal. 4:4), and I think of all the long days between the promises and their fulfillment in that birth — not just Mary’s months of pregnancy, but the four hundred silent years between Malachi and Matthew, the thousands of waiting years that followed Genesis 3.

He came. He conquered. And now we wait for His return, a waiting in which Paul tells us that creation itself joins, “groaning together in the pains of childbirth” as we wait for an end of our bondage to corruption, our release into the glory of the children of God (Rom. 8:20-23).

This is only my third pregnancy, but I’m pretty certain of the baby who must be born soon. I know the signs, have heard the beating heart, studied the ultrasound images and my own stretched self. Hosea prophesied that the Lord’s “going out is as sure as the dawn” (Hos. 6:3). And if you’ve lived long enough to learn to read you know that dawn always comes — more certain, more inevitable than a baby’s birth, the light returns again and again and again.

My baby will be small and weak, bound to sin, bringing me years of worry and work for his welfare. But we will celebrate his arrival with so much joy, in awe of this astounding gift of life.

Christ will return a mighty conqueror, to trample sin underfoot and usher us into joy everlasting, life eternal. How shall we celebrate THAT arrival?

So we wait, full to bursting, for the time to be full again, for Christ to burst upon our taut, aching days with glory beyond imagining.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

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This took me several times the allotted five minutes, but after weeks of writing nothing, I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday to acknowledge the prompt that finally helped me put some thoughts onto a page. The “full” button above will carry you to the FMF page to read more about it. 

©Stacy Crouch 2019

 

 

Safe

He brought his trucks to the edge of the couch and invited me to drive them with him: “Trucks? Drive?”

And so we drove them: up and down my folded legs, around my toes, into the couch cushion crevices, over terrain no sane truck driver would ever attempt.

I imagined a driver in the truck, and how terrifying it would be to careen from kneecap to shinbone, rattle over an ankle, and find oneself wedged nose-down in the ravine between two feet.

But we who held the trucks were not alarmed. We held the trucks; we guided their paths; our hands held them steady on the steepest inclines, and if they fell, we were there to rescue.

How often I forget: the way looks steep, the falls unthinkable, but good and sovereign Hands uphold me, guide me on every path. I am safe.

©️2019 by Stacy Crouch

Be anxious for

nothing except what
is reasonable – tonight’s
dinner, tomorrow’s chores.
What is rational:
nothing more than
clothes for next
season and where
they’ll be stored.
What is logical:
nothing more than
next year’s maybes
and the potentialities

of warning labels,
medication side effects,
whether I’ll like
my toddler son’s
future wife, whether
we’ll be at war
with China or
Russia or the
American government.

Tornado season is
perennial, as is
my question about
safety on conventional
foundations. But even
the best-poured slab
is sand unless
the Lord builds
the house, guards
the city.

In vain
I watch, build,
eat this bread
of anxious toil.
He calls me
Beloved, bids me
Be anxious for nothing.
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©2019 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday (on Sunday): middle

It’s the midpoint of my pregnancy with Son the Third. I celebrate when he kicks Son the Second — who sits on him — and stand in awe that there is a person growing inside me.

Nearby, though, dear friends grieve the loss of their unborn baby; others mourn unrealized hopes for babies not conceived.

We’re caught in the middle: the joy and the grieving, both real and both right in this world which is at once beautiful and broken.

The echoes of God’s “very good” declaration had scarcely finished before Adam and Eve were clothed in death and cast out of Eden. The flavor of the sinful fruit they took remains bitter on our tongues.

Yet all this, both joy and grief, is tempered by eternity. There is birth and there is death, but there shall be resurrection.

These good things are sweet indeed, but they are not forever, and they are just the faintest whispers of the goodness that is to come. These griefs, too, have an expiration date, when the perfect comes, the partial is done away, and God shall wipe away every tear — even these tears — from our eyes.

We who have hoped in Christ — the perfect One broken for us — have hoped not for this life only, but for life eternal which snatches death’s sting and swallows death in victory.

This is already true, though we’ve not yet tasted it. We’re in the middle still, eager for the day when all is made new and we’ll see, not just believe, that all He has made is “very good.”

Linking up belatedly with the Five Minute Friday community. This week’s prompt is middle.

©️2019 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: question

The advertised article asserted that children should play outside 3-4 hours a day, and we hadn’t been outside yet, and I was lying on the floor feeling rotten while my toddlers drove Duplo trains all around. The house was a mess. I had nothing planned for supper. It wouldn’t hurt to do a load of laundry. And I was lying on the floor.

It was more complaint than question: why this? Why me? Why does pregnancy make me so sick? Why can’t I be the good mom and wife and friend and hostess I want to be? Why am I stuck laying on the floor?

I wasn’t in a state of mind to dwell on spiritual truths, but the Lord sent them my way anyway.

He reminded me that He is good.

He reminded me that He is sovereign.

He reminded me that He gave me these boys and this unborn baby, and that His sovereign best for my boys right now is not to play outside for 3-4 hours a day, but to drive Duplo trains around a mommy who has to lie down and is sick a lot.

His sovereign best for me is not to be the capable hostess and homemaker right now, but to gratefully accept the meals kind people keep offering to bring, to do just enough laundry that we don’t run out of clothes, to turn down invitations and stay home from everything, to need my husband to take over as soon as he gets home, and to lie on the floor.

I cried because I’m a hormonal mess, and because God is good to me, even when I’m wallowing in complaints. And I’m incredibly thankful.

Linking up again, at long last, with the Five Minute Friday community to write on today’s prompt, question. Click the button above to visit Five Minute Friday and read more contributions. My post should explain why I haven’t written much lately.

©️2019 by Stacy Crouch

forever?

After a weekend in which tornadoes came to herald one untimely winter day, the weather seems determined to make amends today: clean lines of sun and shadow over thick grass under a pristine blue sky.

My boys nap.

Notre Dame Cathedral is on fire.

The destruction of an old pile on the other side of the world has little bearing on life inside my little house, but still I feel a sense of loss, that my already slim chances of ever seeing that beautiful place are perhaps moving toward none.

Begun nearly 1000 years ago, and constructed over the course of two centuries, the cathedral deserves the attention it’s received. Though we don’t know their names, the workmen who poured their lives into its construction built something obviously important, in sheer scale and beauty and longevity. So, too, the workers who have been restoring it.

It’s harder to see the importance of picking up another dumped lunch plate, wiping another runny nose, pushing another grocery cart through the aisles of Kroger and trying to keep everyone moderately content from the produce section all the way through dairy, checkout, and loading the van.

But Notre Dame will vanish one day — today or later. The architecture of eternity will put even all memory of Notre Dame to flight, and the human souls who seem so insignificant beside that centuries-old structure will populate eternity in glory or torment forever.

It’s right to build, and to grieve when buildings burn and topple, but, oh, I want my life to be spent on forever-things!

I don’t know the eternal ramifications of holding this sleeping baby now nor of trying to soothe an intractable toddler at four am. But, Lord willing, these boys are intended for living stones, to be built into God’s spiritual house. To this end we teach and pray and labor.

If they are, the glory is all to God, none to me. But what an awesome privilege, and terrifying responsibility, to be laboring here. Build Your house, Lord, and let us not labor in vain.

© 2019 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: just

sonnet

There’s just this: that justice is essential to the goodness of the Lord. That a good King must deal out punishment for wrongdoing or else give up that title “good.” That all of us are condemned under the law of the just Judge, culpable for open rebellion, deserving death.

But Christ. But Christ the sinless One took my sins upon Himself, and took God’s wrath against that sin. All of it. All the sin. All the wrath.

But Christ. But Christ the sinless One wrapped me in His righteousness. So that justice toward me, when I am dressed in Jesus, means I am an heir to the kingdom of the good King.

Jesus died, and was not held by death. In Him I live. And justice is perfectly satisfied.

Before writing the above, I came to a coffee shop for the purpose of reading and writing. I read George Herbert, and, his rhythms in mind, somewhat accidentally wrote a sonnet. I’m feeling generous, so here’s the unpolished poem:

Sun and spring wind behind me, and before
A mocha latte froth and ready page.
My mind was set to write, and yet I brought
No pen, nor could my van the need assuage.
He knows each hair, their number and their place.
He marks uncounted sparrows where they fall.
He numbers stars; gives food in time to all.
His love before creation wrote my days.
I asked and looked, and straightway found supply:
An uncapped Sharpie pen in rain soaked grass,
Then pencil in the shrubbery hardby.
All gifts come down from Him, Father of lights;
His goodness gilds each day from first to last:
With pencil He bestowed my thanks I write.

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Linking up today with the Five Minute Friday community, writing on today’s prompt, just. The button above will take you to the link-up.

©2019 by Stacy Crouch