Five Minute Friday: create

“There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate.”

I write lying on my back on an ironing board leaned agains the couch, head down, feet up — thanks SpinningBabies — in hopes of encouraging a stubbornly breech boy to turn and get himself ready to be born. Our ceiling fan and the upper branches of the trees outside the window grow more familiar.

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Other times I’m pre-washing crib sheets and folding diapers and wondering, and if a breech baby is all I have to worry about, how much peace I have!

Yesterday, someone drove a truck through crowds of people in Nice, France, deliberately creating havoc of what should have been a celebration. And I’m in Mississippi creating a nest for a baby.

I don’t know quite how to reconcile the two things, how to consider the world into which this baby will be making his entrance in a matter of weeks, how to think of the likelihood that similar things may be happening in Mississippi before too long, that this baby may one day see, not just hear about, similarly horrible things.

Christ was born, a helpless baby in a world at war with its Maker, born for the purpose of dying a horrific death, born to gain the victory and create a new kingdom.

He did it.

So that however ugly the warfare may look to us, these enemies are fighting in a cause that they’ve already lost. “All things new” is no ephemeral hope, but a certainty upon which we confidently stake our very souls.

So that the peace of this nesting time is no illusion, but a foretaste of glory.

So that I don’t need to be afraid for my baby.

create

Linking up with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers to write on her prompt, Create.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

lament. rejoice.

We’re topping international headlines with our news of racially-charged violence, and I’m remembering how, after 9/11, my family’s Ugandan sponsored child wrote to tell us she was praying for our country: she in whose country the LRA was kidnapping children and brutalizing communities while the world at large barely batted an eye.

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I’ve been trying to write some of the grief for days now, but it just keeps piling up: Orlando and Dhaka, Baghdad and Medina, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, now Dallas . . . .

I used to start each semester of college English instruction by sharing two basic premises with my students: “Words are important” and “People are important.” I rooted both of them in the first chapter of John.

Words are important because God calls Himself “the Word.” The Word who was in the beginning, who was with God and was God, through whom all things were made.

Our words, though lesser, also have power to make things, to build up and to tear down. Their meanings and their connotations matter. It matters that we understand why it may hurt to respond, “All lives matter,” when we are told that “Black lives matter.” Both of those statements are true, but in so hastily asserting the universal truth, we may actually seem to ignore the importance of the subset, we may seem to imply that, in the big scheme of things, black lives don’t matter that much.

They matter infinitely. And gay lives matter. Southeast Asian lives matter, and Muslim lives matter. Police lives matter; the lives of the snipers who take police lives matter. And the lives of ISIS operatives and the Orlando shooter also matter.

This is what I mean when I assert that “People are important.” John tells us that the Word became flesh — God became a person — and dwelt among us. The Word who produced the stars ex nihilo put on a body formed of the dust of one tiny planet and ached and sweated and bled with us and for us. He stood outside the tomb of a man he was about to raise from the dead, and He wept for a grief He was about to undo. He was spread upon the cross, laden with the sins of the world, to purchase eternal life for everyone who believes in Him.

People are important because God values people at no mean price: the cost of the blood of His beloved Son. And lives matter eternally because it is eternal life Christ bought for us.

The bombs and the bullets for which we grieve send eternal souls to eternal torment or eternal glory, and if we truly believe in the importance of all lives, this is the message we must be preaching. The wages of sin: death; the free gift of God: eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).

In Christ, all the barriers come down, the categories marked by hashtags and riots: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:13). Christ was “slain, and by [His] blood [He] ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

He is building a new kingdom; He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). He promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:3) — He’s going to undo this grief — but He is the Savior who wept for the griefs He was going to undo.

Brothers and sisters, rejoice in this hope and grieve with the grieving. We, of all people, can confidently declare that lives matter, and we know the reason why. Share that reason: it matters infinitely.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday (on Sunday): rest

“Rest.” Propped back on pillows, with the laptop at a funny angle on my protruding baby-belly, I’m thinking how this word also means “remainder.” The things or people left after others have been used or accounted for in some way.

In the little bedroom bedside ours, we’ve assembled a crib, and currently it is full of the spoils of yesterday’s baby shower: so many gifts to help us welcome this little man into our world.

He shifts inside me, reminding me by increasing pressure under my ribs that the countdown is now only eight weeks and meanwhile his space is getting tighter.

I am daunted by the number of things left to do and collect before that arrival: the rest of the things.

Yet, really, my task is small: collecting material goods for feeding, sheltering, clothing a tiny person. Inside me, God is knitting him together, building an intricate being of body and soul whose days are all already written in His book — part of the “all that He had made” which God declares “very good” at the end of Genesis 1.

Day by day I am increasingly thankful that I am not responsible for creating this baby. God calls me to faithfulness in the tasks He has given me; the rest — a huge rest — lies with the Lord — as in every other area of life.

Because I know that, I also can rest.

Mr.-and-mrs.-greeneinvite-you-to

Linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew today. Click the pink button above to visit her site and read more about rest.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: want

“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living,” quoth Jim Elliot, reminding his future wife to dig in an enjoy the goodness of her here-and-now in spite of longing for goodnesses then withheld.

It’s a reminder I’ve needed often and often in my life: wanting and wanting and wanting and ignoring the gifts that made my cup overflow. Sometimes, though, I feel I need to turn the warning around: “Let not our living slay the appetite of our longing.”

In these early summer days, I’m content just to be here, now, filling boxes for our move next week, mentally arranging and rearranging the furniture, eating cups of shaved orange or watermelon ice, and taking slow walks around the block.

I don’t want to go far or do great things, my ambitions barely extend past the walls of my house: laundry folded, birthday cake baked, another stack of things culled or stored away.

And I am not sure how to do it. How to live here well, grateful for the gifts now, but cultivating a further-reaching longing, a generational vision? How to savor the freshness of a blueberry on my tongue today while keeping an eye on eternity?

I’m a creature caught betwixt and between, but I want to want the best things. january-1989we-fell-in-love

Today I link up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew, writing on her prompt, want.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

Five Minute Friday: haven

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©2016 by Janet Crouch Photography
Today it’s just this striped chair facing a wall of windows looking out on a green space where pines and cedars are blowing a wind that might bring rain. It’s this room of books and undertones and people thinking, and I’m thinking of the low hum in Uncle Andrew’s study — the hum of the rings that could take you to and from the Wood Between the Worlds, and after all, aren’t libraries rather like that Wood, with each book I touch allowing me to dip my toes, so to speak, into another world?

 

In this world, on the pond beyond the trees, a pair of Canada geese are taking their five children for an outing.

I cocoon myself in quiet, here and at home — seeking wide spaces for thought, where I can notice the tumbling of a singular leaf on the grass outside, the kicks of a singular life inside me.

But I also like to make my home a haven for others — a place of palpable peace, for thinking or for talking, a place for feeding souls and bodies.

Last night, coming home from a church ladies’ night, I found myself an observer of the tail end of a guys’ night my husband hosted: warm lamplight and people talking and eat, at ease, glad to be there, slow to leave.

Usually, when we’re hosting things, I’m in the thick of it, too much so to notice the peace, but last night I got to glimpse it, and I was grateful.

mr-mrs

Linking up for Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday today.

 

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

learnings: May 2016

I failed to write the things I learned in April, and now it’s the last day of May and I’m thinking it’s the last day of April, even though I know June starts tomorrow. Pregnancy brain? Maybe. But I’m fighting it, and so here’s my effort to remember some things I learned in May, linking up with Emily P. Freeman.LetsShareWhatWeLearnedinMay2016

  1. Earlier today, I learned that it’s a lot harder to get things out from under the couch — say, a stray pen — when 28 weeks pregnant. I just can’t flatten on the floor like I used to do. On a related note, I learned about the fact that I can no longer turn sideways to fit through narrow spaces.

2. I learned that apparently it’s a struggle to distinguish short white men from tall Asian women. On the one hand, this one made me laugh, and on the other, it made me so sad. The secular machine, purportedly founded on scientific fact, seems bent on removing all objectively distinguishable facts from the dialog. My question for these students is, if reality is this subjective, why do they submit to receive objective grades from their professors?

3. I learned about how scary ultrasounds can be if the doctor is there and he spends a long time looking at your baby’s head and then tells you “We’ll talk about it upstairs.” Upstairs he said everything looked great. And we were very thankful.

4. I stumbled on this three-year-old confirmation of why you should read Narnia in its original publication order rather than “chronological” story order. Not in need of defense is the presupposition that you should read Narnia. I’ve been feeling the re-read itch for months now, but am saving them to read aloud to baby once he’s here, even though he won’t be fully able to appreciate them for a few years yet.

5. I rediscovered the local library, with all the nostalgia of years of weekly visits to local libraries while growing up. This one has books, big windows, flowers, a pond, a fountain, and a walking trail. What’s not to love?
quisenberry

6. I learned things about the Process of Buying a House — inspections and insurance and mortgages and attorney’s fees.

7. I learned about how nice it is when the lady changing out the flowers in Chick-fil-a chooses you as the recipient of a large-size cup-full of week-old pink carnations and Baby’s Breath.

8. I learned about the Voice of the Martyrs podcast, and particularly the interview they did with missionary John Short who was detained for fifteen days in North Korea. This is the first of three interviews with John and his wife; they are all worth hearing.

9. I learned that when your husband finishes his first year of PhD studies and takes a week off work, and there is time to just be together again, it is an excellent thing.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

Deeper Than a Mother’s Love (DG)

He is still months away from being born, and already I love him with a fierce mother-love, which would defy the world to defend my boy.

His merits, thus far, are small: He rendered me quite ill for three or four months running, he already disrupts my sleep, he has destroyed my waistline, and he necessitates a move from our cozy newly-wed nest. In the future, he will no doubt exhaust, try, defy me, and wring my heart with a million hard emotions of which, childless, I was free. And yet I love him.

God made parent-love and designed it on purpose so that when he tells us he has compassion on us the way a father has compassion on his children, when he tells us he gives good gifts to us the way a father gives good gifts to his children, we can have just a glimmering notion of God’s character. Made in God’s image, in some way I love in his image — though my loving is just as inadequate and broken an image of God’s love as I am of his glory. Marveling at the love I already have for my baby boy, I am blown away to think of how God loves me. . . .

Guest blogging again at Desiring God today. Click here to read the whole post.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch