Five Minute Friday: pause

In Marilynn Robinson’s beautiful novel Gilead, Reverend John Ames remarks, “I don’t know why solitude would be a balm for loneliness, but that is how it always was for me in those days.”

These days seem harried and hectic, and solitude is an elusive gift, but I’ve found a slice of it this afternoon, a place to pause in, just myself. I’m thankful. Strange how one who is never alone can ache sometimes with loneliness. How being alone can soothe and refresh.

When the word is “pause,” I’m thankful for a pause today, an hour before diving back into the breathless rush of life: the crayon to clean off the back of the door, coffee to scrub out of the carpet, small mouths to feed and bodies to love, and always more than you can do no matter how much you do.

The Lord at whose voice the earth melts commands, “Be still.” Cease all this desperate striving to be and to do, and know this God who will be exalted. Because He is with me, I will not be moved. He will help me when morning dawns (Psalm 46).

When the pause is over, fear not, little sheep, no one, nothing, can snatch you out of your good Shepherd’s hand (John 10:28).

7

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today to document my pause. Find others by clicking the button above.

©2018 by Stacy Crouch

 

review: Saving Truth

 

IMG_2486

I have the privilege of being on the launch team for Abdu Murray‘s newly released book, Saving Truth: Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-Truth World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018)*. The invitation to join the team came a week or two after my second son was born, and I hesitated to join, unsure if I could clear my postpartum fog sufficiently to digest a book on apologetics. But I decided I needed the motivation to do that, and plunged in.

It was slow going, and much-interrupted. I finished the book while lying in a twin-size bottom bunk with an infant sleeping on top of me and a toddler snoring by my side.

Saving Truth sounds like a cerebral exercise, and the book’s subtitle, Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-Truth World, seems far removed from diapers, dishes, and Duplo blocks.  Even the most hardened relativist will hardly argue that babies should be cleaned and fed, and my life, consumed with these physical realities, seems to be in another realm from post-truth controversy.

But my boys have minds and souls as well as bodies, and my oldest was born in 2016, when “post-truth” was Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year. Abdu Murray describes the post-truth culture as being “adrift in a river with no bearings in sight” (8) — a “Culture of Confusion” in which emotions and personal beliefs trump objective facts in forming public opinion.

For my toddler, too, emotions and personal beliefs trump objective facts. For his good, I have to teach him that it isn’t true. He may feel like gummies are an acceptable breakfast choice, but I have to help him live in the reality that they aren’t. Taking a nap may make him sad right now, but I know it tends to his future joy.

My boys will grow up in a world in which gender is assigned based on feelings rather than biology. A world in which unborn babies are only human if their parents want them. A world in which doctors are celebrated for assisting people who feel like dying rather than those who feel like living. They’ll be told that all religions are alike, even where those religions present opposite truth claims. They’ll be told that the scientific study of a world which clearly attests to an invisible Creator is at war with belief in any creator at all, and that people are [contradictorily] autonomous agents who are completely at the mercy of the bio-chemical processes at work in their bodies.

I’d do my son a disservice if I allowed him to follow his feelings now with regard to food and sleep and screen time. I’d do him a similar disservice if I failed to teach him how to navigate all the contradictions of a “Post-Truth” world.

Murray’s book seeks to provide a fixed point to help readers find their bearings in this Culture of Confusion, compassionately and unapologetically showing both that this culture has gone astray and that the gospel is the only thing that can make sense of our feelings and our reality. In under 250 pages Murray deals with issues of freedom, human dignity, sexuality, science, and religious pluralism, making complicated concepts clear with anecdotes, examples, and pithy prose.

Murray, a former Muslim and a current Christian apologist with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, is accustomed to presenting and debating these ideas with thinkers at universities around the world. I’m a stay-at-home mom in the buckle of the Bible belt. Saving Truth is helpful in both contexts — and the many in between. Reading it helped me break through my postpartum fog to engage with ideas and see anew the beauty of Jesus who “is the River and the land, the fount of living water and the rock of our salvation” (225).

*Visit www.AbduMurray.com to learn more about Murray, his book, and the bonus content available for those who order it.

©2018 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: adapt

IMG_2255

Adapt. It’s a good word to explain all the days — weeks, months? — when I haven’t written here. The shift of life that comes to a household with two babies now, instead of one. The larger one brings me gifts of rocks and clover blossoms as I stand with him in the yard, bouncing the littler one on my arm.

They delight my heart and demolish my plans, awake when I expect they’ll be sleeping, needing most when I feel least able to give anything, sending me tearful to my Father just as they come tearful to me.

We’re finding a routine, and it doesn’t have room in it for all the things I feel ought to be there, but each morning the mercies are in fresh supply, and I’m learning how the things get done incrementally, in pockets of time here and there. A blog post can be written on a laptop on the living room floor beside a baby who is always asleep at this time of day, except now.

And here I remember that, whatever my plans might have been, my Father’s plans are better than mine, no purpose of His can be thwarted, and His love toward me is an immensely patient love.

More-FMF-Square-Images-36

Finally returning to my blog to link up with the Five Minute Friday crew on this week’s prompt, adapt. Use the button above to read more about it.

©2018 by Stacy Crouch

P.S. I have the privilege of being on a book launch team for apologist Abdu Murray’s new 29871574_10155736240079825_7783853112273539481_obook Saving Truth, which will release on May 8. I hoped to have a review up before now, but until that happens (see above) I just wanted to mention that what I’ve read so far has been good, and that there’s a special bonus offer for those who preorder the book. Click that graphic to the right, or visit abdumurray.com to read about it.

Five Minute Friday: beauty

P1030647

He’s up before the sun, a snuggly body in footie pajamas beside me on the couch, and somehow I’m singing him a personalized version of “You Are my Sunshine,” ending with the sentiment that he’ll be mine always. And he echoes “always” at the end, and insists that I sing it “‘gin! ‘gin!” So I do. And he leans his head over onto the 40-weeks bump that is his baby brother, and looks up into my face while I sing to him that he is mine, and I don’t know how it could get any sweeter than this.

But soon — really and truly any day now — I’ll be singing over two of them, and how will my heart hold the love then? It won’t, will it? Properly proportioned love is never contained in hearts; it spills out perpetually, in smiles, and service, and gifts, and snuggles, and tears, and songs.

And this joy of mine? Only a shadow, a dim reflection, a taste of the love of God. We have joy in belonging to Him, as my boy takes joy in being mine, but the joy of the God to whom we belong is far greater than ours.

This is the God “who will rejoice over you with gladness; [the God who] will quiet you by his love; [who] will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

The “always” of which I sing to my son is bound by time, by my three-score and ten year allotment, but not so the love of God. When scripture says that His “steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chron. 7:3), it means forever. Beyond what we can count or measure, even theoretically, beyond and before time itself is the love of God.

He sings over us now; one day — soon, by any measure, when set against eternity — we’ll hear His song of exultation. That day will be a good day, indeed.


More-FMF-Square-Images

Linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew to write on today’s prompt: beauty. The button above will take you to the link-up where you can read all about it and see what others have written.

©2018 by Stacy Crouch

Babel: on obedience

IMG_0030

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:1-4)

Within memory of some of those still alive, God had destroyed the entire earth with a flood, saving only one faithful man and his family, because “every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). After an entire calendar year shut up in a boat full of animals while every other living creature on earth was destroyed, Noah and his family emerged onto dry land and received the Lord’s blessing: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1).

Fill. The. Earth.

So Noah’s children had children who had children who had children, who migrated to Shinar and settled there and built a city and a tower, and I’ve always understood their sin to be in the effort to touch heaven with their tower. But why were they stretching to such great heights? Ah. “Lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

God said, “Fill the earth.”

People said, “We don’t want to.”

(Because they were comfortable and with their favorite people had all the needful supplies and were doing good work there?)

You can see it in God’s answer to this problem: “there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth” (Gen. 11:9).

We’re reading Genesis together as a family, and I wasn’t expecting the Lord to deal out conviction through the story of the glory-hungry builders of Babel. (I, after all, have no ego-driven construction dreams.) But He convicted me anyway.

Because that command to Noah to fill the earth? Well, the earth is physically full, yes, but Christ transposed it to the spiritual realm for us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . .” (Matt. 28:19). Fill the earth with Christ-followers.

And my answer, more often than not, is “I don’t want to.”

(Because I’m comfortable and with my favorite people and have all needful supplies and can do good work here?)

And it isn’t necessarily that He’s called me to go anywhere but where I am, but is my heart ready to obey if He does issue that call? And am I here to make disciples, whether here is my comfy house in America or somewhere less comfortable on the other side of the world?

To see myself in the story of Babel was never my ambition. But I’ve seen myself there now. And I pray for grace to leave off my futile tower-building on earth and seek “the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:16).

 

©2018 by Stacy Crouch

 

remember

“Remember your mercy, O LORD,
and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old,” David prays.

IMG_7103

“Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness” (Psalm 25:6, 7).

His steadfast love towards me exists before I existed.

His mercy long predates my sin.

He is good before the universe began and past its end, to eternity immeasurable.

Before the Spirit of God moved over the surface of the deep, when the earth was formless and void and swathed in darkness, before God said, “Let there be light” and there was light; before Adam and Eve walked perfect in the garden, before they ate of the fruit and branded humanity with sin, God knew the breadth of our betrayal, knew the weight of our warfare against Him, and in that foreknowledge, He planned mercy through the blood of Jesus.

When we ask Him for mercy, when we call upon His steadfast love, we’re not asking Him to change, to give us a new thing. We ask Him to be what He is, what He is before we came to be. Have we any reason to doubt Him?

©2018 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: simplify

 

IMG_7817 (1)

Simplify — the word rings with New Year’s resolutions and comes with all the lovely Pinterest images of minimalist, white rooms. I did — sort of — organize a closet last week, and as a toddler mom who expects a new baby in six weeks or so, simplification sounds good. But I didn’t make any resolutions about it.

Last night we finished a long, oft-interrupted family trek through the gospel of John. And as I think of “simplify” and of minimalist blogs and of my untidy closets, I think, too, of the last of Christ’s words that John recorded: Peter asks Jesus, But what about John? and Jesus responds, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

It’s that simple sometimes, isn’t it? We want to complicate life with the questions about all the other people, want to know the whys and wherefores that aren’t even part of our story. But Christ’s call isn’t about all those things. Christ’s call? “You follow me!”

It’s a simple call, yet weighted with the knowledge of where and how He might lead — as, for Peter, to a literal cross. Yet if we follow, we know He goes ahead, calling us nowhere He has not first walked. He endured the cross for the joy set before Him, and, leading us, He sets before us that same joy.

Let’s follow.

More-FMF-Square-Images-24

Linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew for this week’s prompt, simplify. Click the button above to visit the FMF site and read more about it.

©2018 by Stacy Crouch