Five Minute Friday: ten [minutes of story telling]

Once upon a time a girl grew up in the kingdom of a Very Kind King. She had been told he was Very Kind more often than she could count, and, moreover, she knew he was Very Kind by the testament of her own experience of the tenderest care and the best provision for as long as she could remember.

Still, though she knew he was Very Kind, she also knew him to be Very Great, and, though he himself said he cared for the smallest in his kingdom, she sometimes doubted the extent of that care.

Thus it happened that, when the girl was grown up and going to be married, she worried that all the concerns of house and clothing and future which consumed her as her wedding approached were perhaps beneath the notice of the Very Great King. Still, remembering that he was Very Kind, she ventured to ask him for a home.

She asked for a home old in a charming way:

doorknob

She asked for windows that admitted lots of light:

window

She asked for trees outside the windows:

trees

She asked for an extra room:

(blurry picture; wonderful room)

(blurry picture; wonderful room)

And for other things beside.

But because she knew the King was Very Great, she knew that he would give whatever he pleased and that it might not look like what she’d imagined.

Oh, but she had not reckoned with the King’s kindness, which met each of her requests exactly. And thus she was taught afresh of the kindness of her King, and emboldened to lean on him for greater provisions and anticipate his kindness even where the future looked dim and she was unsure of the way.

And perhaps these are silly things to ask, and perhaps they are not, but I know that He has given them, and to Him belongs Very Great Glory.

ten-600x600

And, oh y’all, I know that this post has nothing to do with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt, “ten.” But it’s the story on my heart today, and so I wanted to share it. To read posts that actually relate to “ten,” or to link up with one of your own, click the green button above.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: hope

“. . . we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” –Romans 8:23-25

Hope for what we do not see, the redemption of our bodies. We’re living in the already and the not yet, souls already redeemed, already sons and heirs of God with Christ, yet groaning under the curse of sin in our flesh.

We don’t yet see our diseases healed; our bodies betray us, sick and broken. We don’t yet see our desires set right; we long for and love the things we should hate.

This is the realm of decay and degeneracy, the realm of bondage and injustice. We can’t see the redemption and righteousness yet, and with creation we groan.

But. We. Have. Been. Saved.

Saved in hope of ultimate restoration. And He has given His Spirit to testify to our current salvation and ultimate redemption. And that Spirit helps us in our weakness, interceding for us when we know not how to pray, what to ask.

And with such a Helper, what shall we say? Nothing — nothing will be able to separate us from His love. On the strength of the love which I can see made Christ a curse for me, I can hope for what I do not see and wait for it with patience.

hope-600x600

Today I join Kate Motaung to write on her prompt, hope. Click the photo above to go to her site, read more posts on hope, or join in yourself.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

June: learnings 2015

What-We-Learned-in-June 1. Engagement. I could itemize this one out with the how and the where and when and what kind of ring, but for this one, let’s leave it at I learned I’m going to marry him — officially, with jewelry to prove it — and I am so thankful.

2. It’s fun to finally have the conversations we’d been tiptoeing around before he proposed: where to live and how to live and why.

3. There are So. Many. Decisions. involved in being engaged. I would have realized before if I’d thought about it, but I didn’t think about it. I’m not an extremely decisive girl: yikes.

Lady Rose MacClare's debutante moment in Downton Abbey.

Lady Rose MacClare’s debutante moment in Downton Abbey.

4. The English debutante system was ended by the queen in 1958, after much social pressure and criticism. I had assumed that proper British ladies of a certain class and age still dressed in white and went to curtsey to their monarchs as a right of passage. I was wrong. (Probably that assumption was encouraged by my knowledge that the aristocracy of the southern United States still make a to-do over debutantes.)

5. Elisabeth Elliot died. I remember her with thankfulness and admiration for her practical wisdom in godliness, and the way she lived it out. At this moment her most memorable bit of advice is one I had pinned to my desk bulletin board through college and grad school: “Do the next thing.” A relevant piece of wisdom for overwhelmed bride-hood, and an apt illustration of a woman who did not advocate hand-wringing.

6. As of this month — July — it’s illegal to text and drive in the state of Mississippi, punishable until July of next year with a  $25 fine, to be increased to $100 in July of next year.

7. Speaking the truth in love is complicated, and it’s so appealing to just give in to the waves and the winds . . . I praise the Lord for grace which reminds that we are not already perfect, but that we press on in the certain hope of the upward call of Christ.

8. House-hunting is exciting, and I am easily discouraged, but also easily encouraged. P1060205 9. It’s confusing to use translation apps to write “Happy Birthday” in Korean when I don’t know anything about Korean. There were too many options, so I just went with birthday — I think.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

a strange and perfect time

It’s a strange time to be engaged, I’m thinking.

Popcorn

photo thanks to Janet Crouch Photography

The highest court in the land just declared same-sex marriage constitutional, attempting to redefine an institution older than original sin.

Set our meager few hundreds of years of national existence against the dawn of time and ask if our interpretations of our founding fathers really have any weight beside decrees established by the Creator of the universe. We might determine that Thomas Jefferson did not believe gravity existed, but that would not cause us to immediately float from the surface of our earth.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that same-sex couples do and will marry — and also that they do and will love one another. But I am convinced that, in spite of five Supreme Court justices’ lofty opinions, those marriages are fundamentally different things than the one on which I will embark with my fiancé this fall.

I’m not actually here to argue about the ins and outs of that, however, just to think about its implications for one man and one woman who plan to marry soon.

There’s a part of me that, seeing marriage redefined and turned inside upon itself like this, simply wants to throw it off completely. They’ve ruined it, I’m tempted to say, and I’ll have nothing to do with it. 

I suppose similar thoughts may have motivated the early church’s flight to celibacy long ago: seeing the constant abuses of good things can make us lose sight of their goodness and abandon them completely. Follow that line of reasoning too far, however, and it becomes logical to drink poison-laced cool-aid in a jungle commune somewhere — life itself, after all, is mightily abused.

But no. Though Christ calls us to die daily, He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. He didn’t lead His disciples out to hide from the corruption of their world, but led them headlong into the midst of the mess, laying His sinless hands on the rotting flesh of lepers, weeping outside of a stinking tomb, submitting to the revolting brutality of scourging and a cross. (And the stone was rolled away; the grave clothes left empty; Thomas put his hands into the wounds on the risen Lord.)

And so He calls us to live in the midst of kingdoms to which we do not belong, elect exiles, strangers, aliens, ambassadors of the Kingdom which is not of this world. We marry because God made marriage, and we love because He loved us first, and by His grace we make visible a glimpse of that great mystery, Christ and His church.

We don’t show the mystery by ceasing to marry, but by marrying. So that, even in this strange time, I wear my ring with joy, and plan a wedding celebration, and thank the Lord that He created them male and female and declared that the two should become one flesh.

It’s a perfect time to be engaged, I’m thinking.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: dream

bling

In two short weeks, this ring has become a habit, something I expect to see on my hand. But still, I turn the stone this way and that in the light and am amazed at all the change it means.

We’ve crammed so much already into two weeks: so many decisions and plans, so many conversations it’s okay to have now, so many dreams.

I spent years wondering if I’d always have a bare left-hand ring finger. I talked to God about it a lot, asked Him why and how, begged Him sometimes for a husband and sometimes for the grace to be husbandless.

I am astonished now at how He can completely transform dreams in making them come true, making them larger and brighter and more terrifying and more wonderful than anything I could have planned.

But I know that His giving is infinitely kind, just as I am certain that if He had always said “no,” that would have been infinitely kind.

This God, His way is perfect.

For that — and for all the things this ring means — I praise Him.

dream-600x600

Today I link up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, writing on her prompt, Dream. Click the photo above to visit her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday (on Thursday): world

Oh the difference between “you” and “I”! Most notably, today, in what I understand when I ask “Do you understand?” and you answer, “You understand.” Affirmations of my understanding are particularly unhelpful in this instance, because they actually affirm my misunderstanding.

But today I figured it out, and that made the tutoring session MUCH better.

It’s a different perspective on language for this English teacher: understanding can’t be assumed, and we’re adrift in a world in which “my” might be a noun or might end a sentence, and labeling it “possessive adjective” won’t help. (Not that the label would be particularly illuminating in my ordinary teaching, but my ordinary students have generally mastered possession.)

I have always framed my world in words, spent my days in sturdy structures built of words in sequence, but as I sit explaining that month is January as person is to Stacy in terms of capitalization, I realize how other people have word-structures quite unlike mine, in which they just as certainly frame their worlds.

To me it would feel terrifying to try to build my world in Arabic script flowing from the right side of the page. But to those whose worlds are framed in Arabic, my strong English materials must be just as strange.

How grateful I am that our world was created by the Word who transcends all languages — who made all languages — and who never misunderstands, no matter how clumsily we arrange our sentences.

Today I link up with Kate Motaung, writing on her prompt:

SHOP1-600x600

©2015 by Stacy Nott

May: learnings 2015

Today I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman to share things I learned in May.

What-We-Learned-in-May-2015

1. While South Carolina is known as the Palmetto State and Georgia the Peach State, SC actually grows more peaches and Georgia has more palmettos.

2. The Anhinga — better known, maybe, as a snake bird — does not have any grease on its feathers. The lack of grease means it sinks and swims under water, rather than floating on top like a duck. It also means that it has to spend a lot of time with its wings spread out, drying its feathers. anhinga 3. In spite of great initial skepticism, I’m actually kind of a fan of the soft pants trend. (I tried to find the official name, and there doesn’t seem to be one.) The ones I have are made of a flowing rayon fabric in a subtle print, more comfortable than pjs, way cooler than jeans, and easy to dress up or down.

Another perk: they prompted an artist at an art festival I was browsing to strike up a conversation with me, and she wasn’t at all surprised to learn that I’m actually a college instructor, which means they must help me look my age: they are winners.

This is the only picture I have of me wearing the soft pants. I'm the one on the right with my hair blowing in the wind. The soft pants also blew in the wind.

This is the only picture I have of me wearing the soft pants. I’m the one on the right with my hair blowing in the wind. The soft pants also blew in the wind.

4. My church has a pretty good collection of older missionary biographies, and I decided to check one out. (FPCYC people: the uninspiring covers don’t mean the contents are boring!) So now I’m reading God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew and finding it tremendously encouraging and challenging.

5. I learned what a peacock looks like from behind when its tail is spread. We’re always seeing the front few, but the back view is also pretty amazing. So here’s a [not very good] picture of that: Peacock 6. I learned a lot about cicadas, including, but not limited to the facts that squirrels and chipmunks eat them, that some varieties live 13+ years, mostly underground, and that nearly all of ours have finished their lifecycle and now, in early June, are dead.

7. Finishing a semester of teaching doesn’t always make me feel sad. Case in point: I was glad to see the end of this spring semester.

8. There might be a rattlesnake under the tiller. rattler 9. I’m willing to drink coffee sometimes and even kind of enjoy it. But I still prefer hot tea.

10. House concerts are maybe more fun than I expected. At least, the one I attended was.

11. May showers. They came hard on the heels of our April flowers. They were wet and thundery and brought May mud and lots of lawn growth.

12. I like May. toes – Version 2 ©2015 by Stacy Nott