learnings: August 2015

August was a month of heavy learnings: things like the Ashley Madison leak and more Planned Parenthood videos served to underline the depths of a sinfulness to which I pay lip-service while often treating it flippantly in my behavior.

But wherever sinfulness is shown to be sinful, oh, God’s grace is shown to be gracious indeed! When God made Him-who-knew-no-sin to be sin for us, Christ put on adultery and infanticide and lying and gossip and idolatry and disobedience — the sins of the world — and bore the immense wrath of perfect justice. So that we, who by rights should suffer for our adulteries and murders and lies, when we put our faith in Jesus, get to wear His perfect obedience: the righteousness of God. Let that sink in, and as you mourn for sin, oh, sing the praise of this glorious grace!

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Still, there are other things I’ve learned this month, so I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman to share some of them with you.

  1. Belatedly, I learned some things about the origins of American English and why it isn’t it’s own language, and why the British sound different even though the colonists came here speaking British. (Here’s a spoiler: “The accent has changed more in British than in much of American”!) Read about it on the BBC.

  2. Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure is a depressing book. I recommend that you just don’t read it, which is probably the wrong attitude for an English teacher to take, but there it is.
  3. I found it so depressing, that I had to read something really light, so I turned to a book long-recommended to me by a friend, and I finally read Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Apparently I’m way behind in that, since it’s a children’s book and all, but I do recommend that you read it; it is marvelously clever.
Here's a freebie: an obstinate dog who Won't Go for a Walk unless her favorite person goes, too. I am not her favorite person.

Here’s a freebie: an obstinate dog who Won’t Go for a Walk unless her favorite person goes, too. I am not her favorite person.

4. I learned about not being involved in the first day of classes for the first tim in five years, as I’m not teaching or taking classes this fall. It’s weird, and was a little sad not to give my first day of class talk about the importance of words and The Word. But it’s also exciting to be working on a wedding instead.

5. I learned that addressing invitations is not nearly as difficult as it sounds, once you begin doing it. I’ve actually enjoyed that process.

6. This one is amazingly exciting to me: recent evidence suggests that portions of the Koran may predate Muhammad — as in, they existed in written form BEFORE he claimed to have had his visions, and long before the Koran is supposed to have been officially written and compiled. Such evidence has serious implications for Islam, which is founded on the assumption that the Koran is direct divine revelation from Allah to Muhammad. Read about that here.

7. Then there’s this chart from the Joshua Project, with an overview of the 50 largest unreached people groups in the world, and including this sobering statistic: “For ever dollar of Christian resources less than a penny is directed at reaching unreached people groups.” How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? 

8. Speaking of people who need the gospel, I learned that South Korea — in the news last month for its stand-off with North Korea — has the highest suicide rate in the industrialized world, with suicide being the top cause of death for people aged 10 to 30. Read about that here. (Not from that source, I also learned that suicide is extremely common among North Korean defectors to South Korea.)

I also learned a lot about fears and about love to cast out fears and about my future married home. And so I can say, on this first of September, that August was very good.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday (on Monday): find

So I find it to be a law, Paul says, that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

Sin is crouching at your door, the LORD warned Cain. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.

You must rule over sin. But you are enslaved to sin, sold and law-bound to keep on sinning, and how is a slave to rule over his master?

He must be set free.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

Crucified with Christ, the body of sin is brought to nothing, for one who has died has been set free from sin.

Thus we live and walk, no longer slaves of sin, but sons of Almighty God, set free from the law of sin and death, declared righteous, loved with a love from which nothing can separate.

Oh, yes, evil lies close at hand, but there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I find this to be good news, indeed.

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Today I link up with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute flash mob of writers, writing on her prompt, find. Click the image above to visit her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Thus we

by wisdom a house . . .

Sewing long curtain panels together so that the tan stripes match up at the seams, addressing invitations, adding guests to the online list, remembering another kitchen gadget to add to the registry, making reception decorations, playing with hairstyles . . . .

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When we sit at the table in front of the big window and open the Word, she tells me how she’s so good at being busy, no good at being still. And that’s me, too.

“You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.” –Haggai 1:9

She read this verse in her quiet time, was convicted by it, wrote it on a memory card, shared it with me. Ostensibly, I’m supposed to be the teacher, but, oh! I am also being taught.

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” –Proverbs 14:1

And what am I building? What tearing down? Do I busy myself with many things and yet neglect the one thing needful? (Luke 10:41-42)

Do I take the time to dig through all the shifting sands of preferences and kitchen shelving to find the rock on which the wise man builds his house? The Rock on which a house may stand firm when the rains descend and the floods come and the winds blow and burst against that house? (Matthew 7:24-27)

Because I may be sure of rain and floods and wind, but more sure than all these is my Rock and my Salvation, Christ, the stumbling-block made chief cornerstone.

Oh Father, let me be founded here and nowhere else.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): here

here

Here we have no lasting city.

It’s easy to see it in some ways: the paint that chips and crumbles around the window frames, the deep grooves in the wooden floors, the bricks of the street outside the window wavy from the duress of freeze-and-thaw, freeze-and-thaw.

We seek the city that is to come. The city not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. The city whose builder and maker is God.

But we’re here. We who are seeking a homeland live here, and we’re supposed to live here, we’ve been called to live here.

I wobble as I try to walk this line: home, but not home; a citizen of a country I’ve never seen, a country beyond imagining.

But I have a promise: my steps may wobble, but I “shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds [my] hand.”

Here, and forevermore.

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Today I link up with Kate Motaung for her Five Minute Friday prompt, “here.” The button above leads to her page, where you can find instructions on how to join and read other linked posts on the same topic.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

learnings 2015: July

In Mississippi, July is hot, every year. Every year, it surprises me just how hot. In any case, I sweated and learned things this month, so here are eleven learnings from month seven.

As usual, I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman, and invite you to visit her site and do the same.

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1. Why can the British be wittier with their logic than Americans are allowed to be? And why is it successful? I don’t know, but I know that this sample first chapter from apologist Andy Bannister’s new book The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist delighted me with wit and logic. (Just so you know, this chapter is called “The Loch Ness Monster’s Moustache.”)

2. “Thermal monotony.” My rough definition, based on a July 16 episode of The Takeaway, is that “thermal monotony” is the concept that all areas in a space must be the same temperature — hall and entryways and cubicles and closets. Gail Brager, of UCLA Berkley, suggested that “thermal monotony” decreases productivity and even causes ill health — particularly because the cooling in summer is so extreme — and outlined various solutions she had to cure thermal boredom and increase energy efficiency.

3. “Griffonage.” This rare noun means careless or illegible handwriting; scrawl. I kind of love it. Also, as a teacher? I’ve become fairly adept at deciphering griffonage.

4. Making a heart-string: easier than I expected.

Yay for wedding decorations!

Yay for wedding decorations!

5. I-learned-where-I’m-going-to-live-when-I’m-married!

6. I still like Thomas Hardy, as I’m now reading The Return of the Native for the first time. He’s a good story teller.

7. Planned Parenthood. I’ve been processing through things with the release of those videos: how those who sacrificed their children as offerings — Lev. 18:21; 2 Chron. 28:3 — might also have seemed like sane and even kind people in other contexts, how little we grieve for this loss of life, how helpless and ill I feel, knowing that this happens.

8. Thanks to my brother, I got to look at this fun article from Nautilus about how animals see the world, and it has pictures that let you compare:

Approximation of bird vision vs. people vision, by Dr. Klaus Schmitt,

Approximation of bird vision vs. people vision, by Dr. Klaus Schmitt,

9. White vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap, mixed in equal proportions, DO work to clean soap scum from tubs. I saw it shared on social media often enough that I finally tried it.

10. Gift registries: fun, but . . . So. Many Decisions. While we’re at it, though, I figured out that percale sheets are the kind I like.

11. In college, apparently, I had a lot of blue-colored cups: now I get to use them again. blue cups ©2015 by Stacy Nott

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:

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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.

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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.

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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