28. Persistent

The hospital where my husband works has banned visitors, removed the tables from its cafeterias, cancelled all non-emergent surgeries. They’re asking the public for donations of PPE (personal protective equipment) because they’re concerned about shortages, because they want to be able to save as many lives as possible. These things are right.

A few blocks away, in a pink “women’s health” building, staff use PPE in non-emergent procedures to kill babies at the rate of dozens each week. In spite of calls for social distancing, in spite of needs for equipment in life-saving situations, in spite of all non-essential businesses and offices shutting down, women are welcomed to crowd in for elective procedures to end lives. These things are not right.

So today, though our world seems united in unprecedented efforts to save as many already-born lives as possible, pre-born babies are yet being killed, at a cost to the already-born as well. Is killing babies truly an essential business?

We read sin’s ravaging of creation in a virus that attacks and kills bodies. This should grieve us. But we read sin’s ravaging of souls in this persistent evil of abortion. This should be the greater grief.

http://www.votervoice.net/Shares/BnDGgAtFAC83RAn9IGW7FBA

If this grieves you, will you consider following this link to express that grief in action? Thank you!

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

27. Relevant

This batch of sourdough was fluffier than usual after its first rise, and baked into beautiful loaves while my boys were in the bath. The boys came out towel-wrapped, begging for bread. I cut steaming slices, spread them with butter, served them on striped “birthday napkins” from a family celebration last month.

Two friends are quarantined with COVID-19 symptoms right now. Another was admitted to the hospital yesterday. I’ve read the dire warnings, the lists of symptoms, the statistical projections, the jokes, the accounts of horrors in Italy.

Today my boys played with a bowl of ice cubes and a basin of water on our back deck. The used newly acquired water guns to “wash” their riding toys — Coconut the Blue Car, and Big Red. They brought wild onion seed heads out of the yard and emptied them, spreading small green seeds all over the outside table. I held the baby on the deck rail and watched them wade through new depths of backyard weeds.

This week in my current reading book, Bill Bryson’s fascinating The Body: A Guide for Occupants (Doubleday, 2019), I’ve come to chapters on the immune system and on the lungs/breathing. I’ll remember that allergies and asthma are mostly mysteries, that sneezes are like “liquid Saran Wrap” (214) and that B cells are named for an obscure organ in birds (201). Bryson, secure in pandemic-free 2019, didn’t write about COVID-19.

We carried bread to neighbors’ porches this evening; and we’ll eat bread again tomorrow, play on the deck, notice tiny flowers and crawling ants, breath lungfuls of pollen-heavy air, wash hands and clothes and countertops, pray prayers of thanksgiving to the God who made lungs and wild-onions and ice and laughter.

He is the Bread of Life, broken to heal us. The Great Physician, wounded to make us well. The Lamb slain to give us life. And we have it. Abundantly.

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

26. Schedule

The week COVID-19 came to my state, my husband, who leads music at our church, had the first planning meeting for our church’s first-ever Good Friday service. I’ve always loved a Good Friday service: the solemnity and hush, the mourning before the Resurrection.

But there won’t be one this year. There won’t be an Easter service, either.

The regular schedule of weekly, monthly, yearly events is broken now, and I’m home nearly all days, all day long.

But the days keep running. We took a walk yesterday morning as the sun was rising, and my boys marveled at peach-colored clouds against the slate-blue sky, and I told them how the heavens are declaring God’s glory, telling the work of His hands.

And the seasons keep turning. Real leaves supplant pollen catkins, the redbud blossoms have run their course, the azaleas are almost done.

Not because they inevitably must, but because God promised that they would: “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

We won’t have an Easter service, but there will be Easter. The same God whose promise maintains days and seasons promised salvation to those who trust Him. And as sure as the sun has risen on all our days and will on our tomorrows, we know that Christ is risen, and we who trust in Christ will rise with Him on the last day.

We wait at home now in hopes that lives may be saved this way, but our Jesus left His home in heaven, came to earth, and took our death for us. By His power, death itself will be undone.

And nothing — not COVID-19, not overfull hospitals, not shortages of essentials, not cancelled schedules — can make this promise void. He came, He died, He rose again, that we might have life and have it abundantly.

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

21. Numerous

As of today, there are 34 positive cases of COVID-19 in our state. We watched over the weekend as store shelves were stripped bare, church services cancelled, schools extended spring break, and parks and libraries closed. ​I take my boys for neighborhood walks and we play in the backyard: all plans suspended as we wait, hoping all this staying home will save some lives.

Meanwhile, less than 20 miles from my house, in a pink building purportedly for women’s healthcare, an average of 58 babies die every week. Not by omitted hand hygiene or uncovered coughs, but by deliberate actions designed and intended to kill. Around it, the food and shopping scene flourishes, as if no one were dying of routine medical murder across the street. 

The clinic isn’t in my city, though. My city is a city where babies, presumably, should be safe. 

Among the state’s top ten safest cities, my city is home to a Southern Baptist university, has two new playgrounds under construction currently, and is planning a parade for Mother’s Day. It’s a family-friendly, kid-friendly town, clean and bright and in the buckle of the Bible Belt. 

This week, our city board voted to proclaim March 2020 Athletic Training Month and May 16, 2020 Kids to Parks Day, both motions promoting the value of exercise and being outside for good health and longevity. However, the board voted down a resolution which would have officially designated our city a “Safe City for the Unborn” and urged citizens to “encourage the humane treatment of all human beings, including the pre-born child, as well as to promote and defend the dignity of all human life.” The resolution would have cost nothing; it simply makes explicit a position which mayor and aldermen asserted is already implicit in our city’s government. However, though most of them claim to be both Christian and pro-life, to take a stand and say that unborn children shouldn’t be killed was for most of them, too extreme.

A city that has adopted “You Belong Here” as its slogan is afraid to include unborn children in that “you.” A city that builds playgrounds and celebrates mothers is afraid to protect the babies who, given just a few more months of life, would play on those playgrounds.

The coronavirus death toll in the United States is near 100 people so far, with just over 7000 confirmed cases, and our nation has gone into hiding. The abortion death toll in the United States is more than 600,000 each year, and my city officials are afraid to say it’s wrong. 

What a shame.

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

25. Increase

My baby pauses in his feed to grin up at me. In his world, all is right. He is clean, clothed, fed, cuddled in the arms of his favorite person, and just this week learned how to intentionally grab the toys that dangle above his playmat.

He doesn’t know there’s a new virus on the rise, with cases increasing daily, as staples disappear from stores and everything cancel-able is canceled.

He doesn’t know the increasing weariness in my back today, the pile of laundry wanting folding, and the disorder of toy cars and crumpled paper “airplanes” all over the floor.

And he doesn’t need to know. It is my job to know these things. His job is to eat and sleep and practice his newfound grasp and be safe and fed and clean and cuddled, because he is a baby. Like David in Psalm 131, he does not involve himself in great matters, or in things too difficult for him, but his soul is quiet.

My baby trusts me. David trusted in the Lord. And my Lord is the same Whom David trusted. He says I shall not want, says He shall lead me and feed me, restore me and accompany me on even the darkest path (Psalm 23).

This word, increase, keeps taking me back to Isaiah 9, the prophecy of the coming Christ: “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace” (7). And I belong to His kingdom, in which peace shall increase forevermore.

And what has He said to me? “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).

It is enough, with my baby, I rest.

Scripture quoted from the New American Standard Bible ©️1977

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

24. Opinion

O — archaically: an exclamation, variant of “oh”.

Pinion — the outer part of a bird’s wing, including the feathers.

And together? Opinion — a view or judgment not necessarily based on facts or knowledge.

But it’s accident, not etymology, that unites these two parts.

Though so many opinions seem like flights of fancy, their name did not emerge from an exclamation of “Oh! Wings!” Opinion has a perfectly ordinary heritage through French to a Latin root meaning think or believe.

In common usage, we often mean subjective views when we speak of opinions. Not flights of fancy, but ordinary preferences for beans over broccoli, or fair weather over foul. These are indeed based on facts and knowledge, but cannot be judged correct or incorrect.

Culturally, however, we run into difficulties in assuming that there can be NO incorrect opinions. Our opinions of the relative merits of foods may be opposite and yet both correct, but if your stated opinion were that concrete is a food, you would be wrong.

Opinions are subjective; where opinions meet facts, it is opinions, not facts, which must change. Believe the concrete is food as sincerely as you wish, but if you eat it, hard facts will soon bring that fanciful flight to ground.

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

23. Growth

“Why is there mud, Mama?”

“Because God made it rain, and the rain makes mud.”

“Why did God make it rain, Mama?”

“Because it is good for us. Rain makes the plants and flowers grow.”

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God with the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. (Psalm 147:7,8 ESV)

“Why does God make flowers grow?”

“Because they are beautiful. And to teach us something. The Bible says that God gives the flowers their clothes, and those clothes are beautiful. And if God can dress every flower so perfectly, do you think he can take care of us, too?”

“Yes.”

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:30-32)

The questions are perpetual. And God’s word is sufficient. My faith grows each time I answer that God made or God said, and I realize through fresh eyes the perfection of God’s spoken world and inspired word.

Study creation. Understand water cycles and weather patterns, pollination and propagation; map your arteries, dissect your cells; chart galaxies and butterfly migrations — and see that God has made all this and more, and that all that he has made is, as he declared it, very good.

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

22. Success

Naptime is a failure today. In spite of my efforts at patient, consistent discipline, two little boys who were meant to sleeping right now are reading a book together on the couch.

I wanted them to sleep because they need it, but also so I could work on a Bible study lesson in quiet. But I have had to work on it in less quiet.

And that lesson? About the law and the gospel from Galatians 3. Paul rebukes the Galatian believers for behaving as if their works were part of their righteousness: you were saved by faith in Jesus, not by works; do you really think your works are going to make you righteous?

In parenting, as in the rest of life, I’m tempted to believe that success depends on my performance. Bad news for me because, first, my performance is daily far from stellar. But even on days I do my part tolerably well, there are other people in the equation who may or may not cooperate.

Ultimately, it is the Lord who allows babies to sleep — or wake — and by whose grace, not by my efforts, I can hope that one day these boys will be reasonably-adjusted adults.

But well-adjusted adulthood isn’t actually the goal — for my boys or for me. We’re to be measured against a standard of perfection, and we are going to fail. If we trust in our best efforts, we’re doomed to misery and destruction. “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them,’” (Gal. 3:10).

Praise the Lord, then, that where I fail, where all of us for all of history have failed, One succeeded. Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, met the perfect standard and died for the curse we earned. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).

His blood wipes out every sin in our column of debt, and His righteousness is credited to our account. When we trust His promise to save, we are given the record He earned.

I will succeed — be made perfect — because of Jesus’ performance.

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

20. Sparrow

We had a crowd here two nights ago, in and out with the doors open a good bit. Bugs came in, too.

Yesterday morning my boys adopted a crane fly as a pet. They enthusiastically chased it round and round from living to kitchen, through the dining room and back again. They named it “Tree Flower.”

I don’t think the adoption improved Tree Flower’s quality of life. He was harassed for his last several minutes, before meeting a preemptive end under my younger son’s foot — proof that we aren’t ready for real pets.

But the Lord knew every moment of that bugs’ existence before it began. Orchestrated the circumstances of its birth and growth and flight, brought it near enough to wander into our door. He knew how many times it would make the circuit through our rooms in its brief life.

He knew the other crane flies, too: the one that somehow drowned in a melted ice cube on the kitchen floor, the one that survived all day yesterday by perching unobtrusively high on the wall, the one that kept showing up under chairs and table and the edge of the couch.

And maybe it seems silly to say that such an exalted God bothers about wispy insects, but He made them and declared them good. And the One who feeds the spare sparrow and clothes the field flowers must also count crane flies.

Much more, then, He cares for us.

©️Stacy Crouch 2020

19. Endure

Suffer patiently, or remain in existence; last.

There is not, evidently, an etymological link between endure and end, yet here they are in English, linked somehow with ideas of duration and completion. To endure is to see a thing through all the way to a final point, an end.

There’s a Biblical doctrine known in my circles as “Perseverance of the Saints,” which can be succinctly stated as “Once saved, always saved.” It can be misunderstood as a person-centered doctrine, as if we must prove our saved status by persevering in being saved until we get to glory. As if, finally, it is our perseverance that saves us.

Rightly understood, however, it is a God-centered doctrine. Our perseverance is evidence of our salvation, and, just as salvation is a gift from God by grace through faith — not by our efforts — so our perseverance is secured by God (Eph. 2:8-9). We persevere because we are his; we are not his because we persevere.

God has promised to bring his good work in us to completion (Phil. 1:6); he has promised that nothing can separate us from his love (Rom. 8:38-39).

So saved people will endure. Not because we’re talented endurers, but because Jesus will keep us to the end.

“Listen to me,” God summons His people in Isaiah 46, “even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (3-4). Carried by him, we shall certainly persevere.

©️Stacy Crouch 2020