Five Minute Friday: team

Somehow, despite the spelling difference, my mind goes to Genesis 1:

Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures . . . 

And it was so.

We don’t tend to use teem very often any more. It means to be full or swarming with, but, according to my computer dictionary, the original Old English root also denoted being or becoming pregnant with, or giving birth to.

This week, we added to our team, a perfect, beautiful boy. And I rejoice that the God who made the waters teem also made this boy, writing every day ordained for him when as yet there was not one of them.

And behold, that is very good.

team

Linking up with Kate Motaung for her Five Minute Friday — on Friday, for once! — writing on her prompt, team.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): lift

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

I started my morning with this Psalm, and it’s a good Psalm for the morning before the morning before the morning when you have a scheduled induction of labor — a good Psalm for two days before you expect to meet your baby boy.

Look at the hills: steady, seemingly immovable. They were created; they had a beginning and will have an end. But the One who made them is the One who helps you.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Because He doesn’t sleep, you can sleep. Because He keeps you, you are certain of being kept — as certain as the hills.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.

The hills cannot shade you perfectly. But the Lord: He keeps you day and night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

And these are the things that are true: even in the deepest places of pain, even when it seems that we look in vain for help, we are kept by this Lord who made heaven and earth. His promise to preserve us is no mean promise, and, though we finite beings cannot truthfully promise forever, our infinite God can promise infinitely — and keep that promise.

Lift up your eyes. He helps you.

lift

Today I join Kate Motaung and write on her Five Minute Friday prompt, lift.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: create

“There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate.”

I write lying on my back on an ironing board leaned agains the couch, head down, feet up — thanks SpinningBabies — in hopes of encouraging a stubbornly breech boy to turn and get himself ready to be born. Our ceiling fan and the upper branches of the trees outside the window grow more familiar.

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Other times I’m pre-washing crib sheets and folding diapers and wondering, and if a breech baby is all I have to worry about, how much peace I have!

Yesterday, someone drove a truck through crowds of people in Nice, France, deliberately creating havoc of what should have been a celebration. And I’m in Mississippi creating a nest for a baby.

I don’t know quite how to reconcile the two things, how to consider the world into which this baby will be making his entrance in a matter of weeks, how to think of the likelihood that similar things may be happening in Mississippi before too long, that this baby may one day see, not just hear about, similarly horrible things.

Christ was born, a helpless baby in a world at war with its Maker, born for the purpose of dying a horrific death, born to gain the victory and create a new kingdom.

He did it.

So that however ugly the warfare may look to us, these enemies are fighting in a cause that they’ve already lost. “All things new” is no ephemeral hope, but a certainty upon which we confidently stake our very souls.

So that the peace of this nesting time is no illusion, but a foretaste of glory.

So that I don’t need to be afraid for my baby.

create

Linking up with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers to write on her prompt, Create.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

lament. rejoice.

We’re topping international headlines with our news of racially-charged violence, and I’m remembering how, after 9/11, my family’s Ugandan sponsored child wrote to tell us she was praying for our country: she in whose country the LRA was kidnapping children and brutalizing communities while the world at large barely batted an eye.

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I’ve been trying to write some of the grief for days now, but it just keeps piling up: Orlando and Dhaka, Baghdad and Medina, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, now Dallas . . . .

I used to start each semester of college English instruction by sharing two basic premises with my students: “Words are important” and “People are important.” I rooted both of them in the first chapter of John.

Words are important because God calls Himself “the Word.” The Word who was in the beginning, who was with God and was God, through whom all things were made.

Our words, though lesser, also have power to make things, to build up and to tear down. Their meanings and their connotations matter. It matters that we understand why it may hurt to respond, “All lives matter,” when we are told that “Black lives matter.” Both of those statements are true, but in so hastily asserting the universal truth, we may actually seem to ignore the importance of the subset, we may seem to imply that, in the big scheme of things, black lives don’t matter that much.

They matter infinitely. And gay lives matter. Southeast Asian lives matter, and Muslim lives matter. Police lives matter; the lives of the snipers who take police lives matter. And the lives of ISIS operatives and the Orlando shooter also matter.

This is what I mean when I assert that “People are important.” John tells us that the Word became flesh — God became a person — and dwelt among us. The Word who produced the stars ex nihilo put on a body formed of the dust of one tiny planet and ached and sweated and bled with us and for us. He stood outside the tomb of a man he was about to raise from the dead, and He wept for a grief He was about to undo. He was spread upon the cross, laden with the sins of the world, to purchase eternal life for everyone who believes in Him.

People are important because God values people at no mean price: the cost of the blood of His beloved Son. And lives matter eternally because it is eternal life Christ bought for us.

The bombs and the bullets for which we grieve send eternal souls to eternal torment or eternal glory, and if we truly believe in the importance of all lives, this is the message we must be preaching. The wages of sin: death; the free gift of God: eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).

In Christ, all the barriers come down, the categories marked by hashtags and riots: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:13). Christ was “slain, and by [His] blood [He] ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

He is building a new kingdom; He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). He promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:3) — He’s going to undo this grief — but He is the Savior who wept for the griefs He was going to undo.

Brothers and sisters, rejoice in this hope and grieve with the grieving. We, of all people, can confidently declare that lives matter, and we know the reason why. Share that reason: it matters infinitely.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday (on Sunday): rest

“Rest.” Propped back on pillows, with the laptop at a funny angle on my protruding baby-belly, I’m thinking how this word also means “remainder.” The things or people left after others have been used or accounted for in some way.

In the little bedroom bedside ours, we’ve assembled a crib, and currently it is full of the spoils of yesterday’s baby shower: so many gifts to help us welcome this little man into our world.

He shifts inside me, reminding me by increasing pressure under my ribs that the countdown is now only eight weeks and meanwhile his space is getting tighter.

I am daunted by the number of things left to do and collect before that arrival: the rest of the things.

Yet, really, my task is small: collecting material goods for feeding, sheltering, clothing a tiny person. Inside me, God is knitting him together, building an intricate being of body and soul whose days are all already written in His book — part of the “all that He had made” which God declares “very good” at the end of Genesis 1.

Day by day I am increasingly thankful that I am not responsible for creating this baby. God calls me to faithfulness in the tasks He has given me; the rest — a huge rest — lies with the Lord — as in every other area of life.

Because I know that, I also can rest.

Mr.-and-mrs.-greeneinvite-you-to

Linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew today. Click the pink button above to visit her site and read more about rest.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: want

“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living,” quoth Jim Elliot, reminding his future wife to dig in an enjoy the goodness of her here-and-now in spite of longing for goodnesses then withheld.

It’s a reminder I’ve needed often and often in my life: wanting and wanting and wanting and ignoring the gifts that made my cup overflow. Sometimes, though, I feel I need to turn the warning around: “Let not our living slay the appetite of our longing.”

In these early summer days, I’m content just to be here, now, filling boxes for our move next week, mentally arranging and rearranging the furniture, eating cups of shaved orange or watermelon ice, and taking slow walks around the block.

I don’t want to go far or do great things, my ambitions barely extend past the walls of my house: laundry folded, birthday cake baked, another stack of things culled or stored away.

And I am not sure how to do it. How to live here well, grateful for the gifts now, but cultivating a further-reaching longing, a generational vision? How to savor the freshness of a blueberry on my tongue today while keeping an eye on eternity?

I’m a creature caught betwixt and between, but I want to want the best things. january-1989we-fell-in-love

Today I link up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew, writing on her prompt, want.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

Five Minute Friday: haven

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©2016 by Janet Crouch Photography
Today it’s just this striped chair facing a wall of windows looking out on a green space where pines and cedars are blowing a wind that might bring rain. It’s this room of books and undertones and people thinking, and I’m thinking of the low hum in Uncle Andrew’s study — the hum of the rings that could take you to and from the Wood Between the Worlds, and after all, aren’t libraries rather like that Wood, with each book I touch allowing me to dip my toes, so to speak, into another world?

 

In this world, on the pond beyond the trees, a pair of Canada geese are taking their five children for an outing.

I cocoon myself in quiet, here and at home — seeking wide spaces for thought, where I can notice the tumbling of a singular leaf on the grass outside, the kicks of a singular life inside me.

But I also like to make my home a haven for others — a place of palpable peace, for thinking or for talking, a place for feeding souls and bodies.

Last night, coming home from a church ladies’ night, I found myself an observer of the tail end of a guys’ night my husband hosted: warm lamplight and people talking and eat, at ease, glad to be there, slow to leave.

Usually, when we’re hosting things, I’m in the thick of it, too much so to notice the peace, but last night I got to glimpse it, and I was grateful.

mr-mrs

Linking up for Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday today.

 

©2016 by Stacy Crouch