Five Minute Friday: dwell

I’m wearing another new ring and a new name, and living in a new home in a new town as a newly-wed, and yet it all feels strangely normal, so that the weirdness we’ve most often remarked on, these last two weeks, is how un-weird it is.

Beside our front door, a cross-stitch from a sweet friend reminds of the last verse of Psalm 23: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”


We go in and out, and His goodness and mercy follow — though some day or other we’re sure to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that mercy and that goodness shall follow us, even there.

Yet in or out, living in this cozy apartment with a braided rug on the scuffed wooden floor, or living under fluorescent lighting on the other side of the world, there’s a very real sense in which we’re dwelling in the house of the Lord already.

Because forever was going on before time started, and He who chose us in Him before the foundation of the world knows us beyond the time when the mountains will be cast into the heart of the sea.

He names Himself Emmanuel, God with us, and in Him we are being built into a spiritual house — we ourselves, living stones in the house of God, forever.

Oh dwell here, little sheep: this house, forever, is home.


Today I link with Kate Motaung at Heading Home for her Five Minute Friday prompt, dwell. Use the “dwell” button above to head over to her site and read what others have written on the topic.

©2015 by Stacy Crouch

sea: small and glad, day 29

sounding swell
There’s a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins I’ve long loved*, and it is what comes to mind when I think of “sea”. It is called “Heaven-Haven” and is subtitled “A nun takes the veil”:

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

And if that’s life in a convent, well, I’ve always felt the appeal of that, the longing for peace that “comes dropping slow” as W. B. Yeats put it, writing of his own desire to go “live alone in the bee-loud glad” in a cabin on the Lake Isle of Innisfree. 

Even being in a boat on a calm sea makes me seasick — I have no longing for storms and swinging seas, and, given the option, one prefers to have no hail. (At least, I prefer. But, like Bilbo Baggins, I want no adventures.)

But then tonight I read the story of Israel coming out of Egypt, pursued by Pharaoh: “For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea” (Exodus 15:19).

Later, psalmists and prophets celebrated and marveled at this:
“He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap” (Psalm 78:13).

“He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert” (Psalm 106:9).

“. . . who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths” (Isaiah 63:12, 13).

And here’s what I’m seeing: God made His people walk right through the middle of sea. They were on their way to peace, yes — if they’d continued in obedience — but on the way, it was right through the depths. Depths that could have swallowed them up, as they had ample proof seeing Pharaoh and his army swept away behind them. But the LORD went with them, and made their way through the depths on dry land.

Others of His people actually got wet: Jonah who was “cast . . . into the heart of the sea” (2:3); and the psalmist, who cried to the LORD “out of the depths” (130:1), among others.

But there’s this promise from God, always true:
“When you pass through the waters,” — when, not if — “I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. . . . For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2, 3).

He tells His people to fear not. Not because He’s going to always be leading them exclusively beside quiet waters and “out of the swing of the sea,” but because, when He leads them straight into the sea, He is with them there.

O Israel, hope in the LORD!
— not in earthly peace —
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.

And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Psalm 130:8

It’s our iniquities which shut us out of peace, but Christ “himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Rest in His peace, small one, and be glad.

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*Actually, I think I first met it as a song by the Innocence Mission. But the same friend introduced me to both Hopkins and the Innocence Mission, and I can’t remember which came first.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

hope: small and glad, day 28

One difference between being small and being large — in terms of soul-perspectives on oneself, not in terms of physical size — is that the small one can feel gratitude where the large one feels entitlement.

The small one hopes, knowing that she deserves nothing.

And yet she hopes confidently: not because she is worthy, but because He-on-whom-her-hope-is-set has promised, and He cannot lie.

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©2015 by Stacy Nott

whisper “perhaps”: small and glad, days 26 & 27

fear notSo you whisper that you’re afraid. Or don’t whisper, because you’re afraid to put words to it.

And you wonder why you? Why not someone brave? Someone less prone to worries; someone who progresses in large, confident strides through the centers of rooms; someone who loves adventure more than safety? 

May I whisper back that perhaps it is just because you’re afraid? When you’re feeling brave, you don’t realize you need help, but fear makes you so small and so helpless. And when you are small, you can see that your God is big.

And He keeps all His promises.

(Including the ones about supplying every need of yours. And about being with you wherever you go. And about giving strength to the weak.)

So that perhaps, when you, the fearful soul, take your timid baby steps forward in faith that your God is big enough for all your fears, He will get the glory, and you, dear fearful friend, will be made glad.
heart string 2©2015 by Stacy Nott

CRASH: small and glad, day 25

It is the sound of flood waters destroying life on earth (Genesis 7:17-24)

It is thunder from Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:18).

It is Jericho’s walls tumbling down (Joshua 6:20).

It is Goliath’s huge frame felled (1 Samuel 17:49).

It is heavenly fire consuming Elijah’s water-soaked sacrifice (1 Kings 18:30-39).

It is tables turned over in the temple court (Matthew 21:12, 13).

It is the curtain of the temple torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51).

It is the seals breaking from the stone set before a tomb (Matthew 27:66-28:2).

It is an earthquake opening prison doors (Acts 16:26).

Hearing it, I know my own smallness, but in the kindness of Him who guides each crash, I know my gladness, as well.

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©2015 by Stacy Nott

silence: small and glad, day 24

Rain comes in a sudden roar on the roof, and after weeks of silent skies and crisping vegetation, I find myself just listening. Listening.

I am smallest and most glad when I take the time to listen.

God enjoins silence in Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God” — and in Isaiah 41:1 — “Listen to me in silence, you coastlands; let the peoples renew their strength.”

For me it involves hushing all the internal voices, the ceaseless arguings and wonderings with which I engage myself, and then there is delicious rest.

David says that he calms and quiets his soul “like a weaned child with its mother” (Psalm 131:2), and I think of little children who fight to stay awake: fidgeting, irritable, so tired and so disinclined to surrender to sleep. But then, when they are made to be still — when you take such a child and hold him still and close — the struggling bodies relax, and there is rest.

David accomplishes this quiet through humility — not raising heart or eyes or mind to things too high for him (131:1) — and hoping in the Lord (131:3).

And this Lord in whom He hopes? This is the Lord of Psalm 46 who helps His people while mountains are moved into the sea, who brings desolations, ends wars, breaks the bow and shatters the spear. This is the Lord of Isaiah 40 and 41 who measures the oceans in the palm of His hand and weighs mountains on His scale, who knows and calls each star by its name, gives power to the faint, and promises to uphold His people with His righteous right hand.

Silence: think of the power of this God, and be small. Think of the love of this God, and be glad.

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©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: joy (small and glad, day 23)

(You’ll notice that I’ve skipped days 21 and 22 . . . because I missed them. And I might catch up sometime, but today is day 23, so I’m writing it.)

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The RSVPs have been coming in. It’s amazing how small and glad this makes me feel.

Overwhelmed really, that so many people are willing to travel so far just to celebrate my wedding. Overwhelmed, feeling so very loved.

The gifts have been doing that to me, too: generous packages arriving from hither and yon, with sweet notes. . . . and I really just had no idea.

Every year I’m overwhelmed by my birthday on social media. I’ve made it a rule to actually type a “thank you” on each “Happy Birthday,” and it leaves me feeling so very very glad.

But this: a gift, a road-trip, a plane ticket? (And-food-and-clothes-and-flowers-and-decorations-and-plates-and-cups-and-signs-and . . .?) For my day?

I’m not trying to sound like a #basicwhitegirl, but I literally can’t even.

I used to think that getting married was all about the love between two people, and it is — I mean, that’s why it happens — but this wedding is about how a huge number of other people love the two of us.

And, well, I’m grateful.


Today I join Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers to write on her prompt, joy. The “joy” button above will take you to her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott