ephemera. eternity.

ephemera

The first blossom is high in the magnolia tree beside our house, and down in the woodsy bit at the back of the yard there’s something white showing up against the dusk. I suspect dogwood, but will have to investigate tomorrow.

There’s still a red mark on my arm from baby’s head — recently surrendered to the safety of his crib — and the chilliness which replaced his warm little body against mine has necessitated a cup of hot chocolate, even on this 80-something degree day of our Mississippi spring.

In the past three days he’s sprouted a third tooth, gotten himself from lying down to sitting up without help, and taken his first few crawling “steps.”

I am learning so many things. About the sheer physicality of motherhood. About how many more things one can do in a day than I used to think possible. About my fearful heart, my small faith, my mighty Father.

It’s hard to put words to these lessons, hard to find quiet spaces in which to even put thoughts to them. I used to go out with a leather book bag, filled with journal, pens, laptop, books. Now I move through the mental checklist of diapers, wipes, sippy cup, snack, stroller, paci, some toy or other . . . . Once I stood in high-heeled shoes at the front of a classroom, read heady poems and wrote on a white board, asked my students to explain the gospel. Now I’m barefoot on the living room floor, singing nonsense songs and trying to teach the tiny reaching hands “no no,” living that gospel I used to glibly explain: my life for his.

When I am full of fears, my husband comforts me with the sovereignty and goodness of God. And that same sovereignty sometimes shakes me to my core: He who did not spare His own Son — temporal comfort and safety don’t top His priority list, do they? But that goodness? He who did not spare His own Son — what further evidence do I need of His love?

But He’s given me so many evidences: the magnolia and the baby’s contented breathing and the delight of crawling back into my bed in the middle of the night. And the promise of mercy new with each morning. I don’t have mercy yet for the mornings that aren’t here yet. But the mercy of today helps me to look from my fears to His goodness. Again. And again. And again. And to still be afraid. And to still trust Him.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: define

“And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” Genesis 1:4, 5

Day One of creation. Separation. Definition. These things are different — light and darkness — and by their differences we can recognize and define them. Neither means anything without the other. We define them by their positive qualities, but also by what they are not. Light is not darkness. Darkness is not light. They are different as Day and Night.

And this, this is part of what it means to define a thing. To draw the line showing what it is not, so that we can see what it is. To define is necessarily an exclusive act, not unkindly, but pragmatically.

All things are not the same, and in order to function, to communicate, to exist, we have to recognize those differences — not in value, but in kind.

So that when I say that I am one thing and not another, I do not mean that another is necessarily bad. I mean that I cannot be all things, and that to be anything at all is not to be most other things.

This is not my idea: God wove it into the fabric of the world from the beginning of time. And He — He declared it good.

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Linking up with Kate Motaung for her Five Minute Friday today, writing on her prompt, define. The “define” button above will take you to her site.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: friend

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you.” –John 15:12-14

So simple. So far from simple.

Love as He loves us. How does He love us? In laying down His life. God-Himself, not grasping for glory, but making himself nothing in obedience to the point of death — even death on a cross.

For us, His friends, whom He calls to do the same.

And we’re always looking for the glory in the giving up: “See me lay down my life! See me loving like Christ!” Holding our “laid-down” lives aloft: “Look at my great love!” Oh the irony.

But these are the lives for which Christ’s was laid down. And if we love at all, it is because we have been loved.

He tells us to love as we already have been loved. Our loving doesn’t earn us His friendship: we have His life laid down, making us His friends. And because we’re His friends, we can do what He commands us.

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Linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt, friend. Visit her site by clicking on the “friend” button.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

 

Five Minute Friday: safe

albrecht_durer_-_two_seated_lions_-_google_art_project

Albrecht Durer, Two seated lions, 1520. Public domain image from Google Art Project

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”*

I tremble with Lucy, wanting Him to be safe. But He couldn’t be, could He? Not safe and good, if He is The King. To be King and be good means that He must be woefully dangerous. Subjects are safe with a king only insofar as He is able to defeat their enemies. The King who defeated the last enemy of them all, fell Death itself: that King must be fearsome indeed.

‘Course he isn’t safe.

There’s a higher sort of goodness than the harmlessness which “wouldn’t hurt a fly.” This goodness sent the Only Begotten to agonize on the cross, because He who would defeat death would also see to it that justice was served. The best goodness rushes in roaring sometimes, claws and teeth bared, because for goodness to be good, the bad guys must be punished.

So, safe? Of course He isn’t. But, poet Ben Palpant gets it right:

What or whom should I fear?
You have proven that you save
your chosen ones.
Indeed, you answer 
out of holy heaven
with right arm flexed,
fists furious,
feet flying.

Some say, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”
Others say, “I can help myself.”
I say, “God help me or I die.”**

 

*C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, ©1950
**
Ben Palpant, “So Here I Stand,” Sojourner Songs, ©2016

safe

Linking up with Kate Motaung to write on her prompt, safe. Turns out she thought of the same Lewis quote I used, but — disclaimer — I wrote my post before I read hers. Either way, the “Safe” button above will carry you to her site.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: breathe

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I sit cross-legged in the sun on the sidewalk, helping him balance as he sits in front of me and reaches chubby fingers to grasp brown leaves, spears of green grass, clover by the fistful. He brings everything to his toothless mouth, and his lap is littered with drool-coated leaves. This is my boy, and we are adventuring.

Breathe.

Complaining caught me this week: never-finished laundry and a dirty floor and always more to cook and a baby who wants all of my attention all the time.

But night before last the baby slept for Ten Hours Straight and I got a morning half-hour to journal and pray, and the Lord reminded me that these are gifts: a husband whose clothes I get to wash, a house, abundant food, a baby . . . three years ago, I only dreamed of these as “maybe, one day, I hope . . . .” And here they are.

Breathe.

So somehow, where I had hurry and frustration, He gave me a thankful heart. And in the peace of that thanksgiving, there’s room to breathe again.

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Today I link up with Kate Motaung to write on her Five Minute Friday prompt: breathe. Link in the “breathe” button above.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: middle

bridge

I don’t remember the first time Daddy shared it with us, but it counts among my earliest memories: the rough sketch of two cliff-tops and the chasm between. “MAN” on one side, “GOD” on the other; in the middle the sins that have made a separation between us.

Daddy drew a stick figure on the “MAN” side. And he would ask how we could get across.

Depending on the context, people offered suggestions: praying, going to church, being obedient. Daddy drew them as bridges. But they were bridges that could not span the gap — our righteous deeds are as filthy rags, and we can’t get to God by doing good things.

To trust yourself to any of those bridges, Daddy would point out, led to death. “DEATH” — the wages of sin — lay at the bottom of the chasm.

So what are we to do? Ah, in the middle, Daddy drew a cross, spanning the chasm. “JESUS,” who died for our sins, taking the death we earned, to bring us to God.

And how do we cross? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

The Bible says that there is only one mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ. A synonym for “mediator” is “middle man.” How thankful I am for this Christ who stands in the middle, interceding for me, giving me the free gift of eternal life.

middle

Linking up with Kate Motaung today to write on her prompt, “middle.”

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

i’d be twins

img_0176“You see my finger?
See my thumb?
See my fist?
You’d better run!”

He shook a muscled fist in mocking threat, and we made feint to run, watching the twinkling blue eyes under the salt-and-pepper flat-top for the next joke. Forty-something years of dairy-farming made Grandpa’s hands thick and strong, and the rough-handling of life left him laughing.

“How are you, Grandpa?” we’d ask. And maybe he’d been hugging his heart-shaped pillow after that long-ago bypass surgery, or maybe he’d been fumbling for a pain-pill, or maybe we’d just watched him struggle to transfer from wheelchair to recliner on neuropathic feet. But he wouldn’t let-on that he was hurting: “If I was any better, I’d be twins!” he would grin.

Cue remark from one of the grown-folks in the room that one Grandpa was quite enough to handle!

When my daddy was a boy, Grandpa’s hands beaned a bull between the eyes with a fence post, because said bull dared to chase my dad. In my memories, those hands dig fence posts, grab my toddler toes, hold Grandma’s hand — across the yard, across the parking lot, in the car, in their chairs at home.

He always joked that Grandma let him be the boss once a week — Fridays, usually — if he behaved himself. But behind the raillery was romance. He kept the nickel she gave him when they met — “Call me!” — for long years afterwards, so that he could even show it to me, the eleventh of forty-six grandchildren.

We approached his seat at the head of the long table in the kitchen where his eight sons and five daughters — our parents — had eaten their childhood meals with reverence, “Yes sir” and “No sir” ready on our lips, pleasantly apprehensive of his teasing, but certain of his love.

“Why, it’s the prettiest girl in Mississippi!” he’d exclaim. (I was the only granddaughter from Mississippi.) “It sure is good to see you!” When I was tiny, he called me “Stacy Lucindy.”

In the hospital two weeks ago, he was still glad to see me, but he didn’t reference Mississippi or my name. The IV pole had a faulty line and kept beeping and beeping, the room was hot, my baby hungry. I let other people do the talking — habitual for me — but didn’t follow the conversation very well.

Then he asked it: “What did you marry?” Classic Grandpa. I don’t remember what was said that inspired the question, but there it was. He knew me, and recognized my little family with his usual teasing. We caught the moment on an iPhone screen: an old man in a hospital bed holding my baby’s hand. Root, meet fruit.

It must take time and distance to be able to sum up a life. I’ve had one full day and the distance between Florida and Mississippi. There are too many things to say and too few words.

My baby won’t understand all the ins and outs of the large family tree from which he springs, but I’m pretty sure he’ll know that his mama had a good grandpa.

Because she did.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch