Five Minute Friday: silence

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6 am. The baby sleeps. So there’s just the sound of the noise machine through the monitor, the ticking clock, a squeak of a bird somewhere outside.

I used to live in these long spaces of quiet — before marriage, before babies — just me and my thoughts, and I thought lots of thoughts and had time to write them down. The noise level has gone up considerably; the writing output significantly decreased. Yet I’m convinced that this season is a good season; I would not go back.

And there are different kinds of silence. There’s the silence of there not being any physical noise, and there’s a different silence of a heart at rest, even in the midst of noises.

The silence of an orange peeled on the front steps on a 50 degree morning while an eager toddler makes anticipatory sounds at my side. The silence of leaves raked into piles and the toddler’s laughter riding a tarp full of leaves into the back yard. The silence of loving the little boy whose voice comes through the monitor as soon as I type that he’s asleep.

It means silencing the complaining voices, the tired voices, the wistful-for-long-quiet-hours voices that so easily grow in my mind, and leaving the voice that says, “Thank You.”

And sometimes that thankfulness is a whisper through tears, and sometimes it’s a rollicking song and dance of joy. But both go up to the Father of lights, from whom every good and perfect gift comes down, and by these small things I remember this large thing: He is good.

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Linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew today, on today’s prompt, silence. The button above will take you to the link-up.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

 

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): need

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Need. Today I’m thinking homophones, and the word is “knead.”

I’m not really a baker, but I do make bread from time to time. When there’s time and space there’s something soothing about working the dough: pressing and folding and turning it. My grandma used to make these magnificent yeast rolls — huge and crusty with soft white insides — and she had a way of tucking their bottoms under to make them round and smooth. So anyway, I know that bread needs kneading.

It wasn’t until I watched the Great British Baking Show, however, that I learned why bread needs kneading. Yes, kneading does mix all the ingredients together, but mixing the ingredients doesn’t require the time that kneading requires. Kneading allows the gluten in the bread to build into a structure that can rise and support the weight of the loaf. If you don’t knead enough it won’t be strong enough to hold itself up, but too much kneading, on the other hand, can make a tough loaf. Bam! Years of kneading dough makes sense.

It’s like that with so much of life, though, isn’t it? Things happen, and we’re not sure of the why behind them. I’m thankful for a God who knows all the whys, and knows exactly what I need. His kneading may feel rough and pointless, yet I know — I KNOW — that if He kneads, it’s because I need it, that what He is making will prove magnificent.

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Linking up with the Five Minute Friday gang to write on this week’s prompt, need. I need to do these more often.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday (on Monday): accept

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I set the shoes in an orderly row beside the door. He comes behind and throws them around the rug.

I fold the shirts into a neat stack. He yanks the stack off the couch.

I turn on the vacuum with my foot and set out across the carpet. He comes behind me and, imitating me, turns it off with his little foot.

And so it goes. His “helping” seems to double the work, which never ends at the best of times.

And I wonder: is this the actual state of my good works? As I try to be about my Father’s business, do I make more messes than I clean? As I try to be like Christ, do I heap more sins upon His cross? (Oh, yes.)

And yet, though I grow frustrated with my baby, my Father invites me into His labor, needing my help not at all, and makes of my messes something beautiful — He gets glory, even from these. And in the end? The Lord accepts these feeble efforts, and welcomes me home, saying “Well done.”

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Belatedly linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew, writing on last week’s prompt, accept. Click the button above to visit the link-up.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: support

Support.

I’m thinking of Isaac Watts’ paraphrase of Psalm 23:
“When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay.
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.”

A week ago, Nabeel Qureshi, Christian apologist and author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and No God but One, announced that his doctors have put him on palliative care, that his body, after a year of fighting cancer, is shutting down. So I’m guessing he’s walking through shades of death this week, and I’ve been grieving and praying.

This week we happened to be walking through John 11 in our evening family times: the story of Lazarus, taken in tiny bites. There’s Christ, who stayed away and let Lazarus die because he loved them. And there’s Christ, who knows he’s about to raise the dead man, weeping for the sorrow he’s about to undo. And there’s Christ, bidding that dead man to come out. And the dead man came out.

This week I happened to be reading Revelation in my mornings, and there’s Christ again, promising to wipe away every tear. Promising that death shall be no more. And there’s a hope, better than Lazarus’ earthly resurrection: the One who declared himself to be the Resurrection and the Life will dwell with us as our God, will make all these sorrows pass away, will make all things new.

He walks with us through shades of death. He walked through them before us and for us. We wouldn’t breathe without his breath, and his breath tells us to “Fear not.” Not because there aren’t things to fear, but because he’s already told us the ending of this story, and it’s a happy ending:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  –John 11:25, 26 

(She said to him, “Yes, Lord . . . .”)

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I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew today, even though I spent longer than trying to pull these threads of thought together. The button above will take you to the FMF site, where you can find others’ musings on this week’s prompt, support.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

steps

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You walk, son. Confident in shoes now, you know no fear, despite frequent tumbles, and boldly climb our four brick steps adult-fashion, holding the rail and hoisting yourself up steps nearly hip-high for you.

But going down, you pause at the top: not to turn around and scoot down in the approved backwards-fashion, but to reach for my hand, which, without looking, you know will be there. Because I chase when I see you head that way. Because I won’t let you take that too-large step down and tumble head-long on the bricks.

One day, little boy, you’ll reach and I won’t be there — won’t be fast enough, watchful enough. One day, despite my best efforts, you’ll fall — maybe not down these steps, but somewhere painful.

But my Father? His hand will never fail me. Just as sure as you are of my hand — surer than that — I can be sure of my God. He establishes my steps. He upholds my hand. No matter how hard I lean, I can’t overbalance Him. No matter how suddenly I fall, I can’t catch Him by surprise. Nothing can snatch me out of His hand.

Oh son, may you place your tiny hand in His and walk thus confidently all your days!

 

 

upon the hazards of an early bedtime

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Trigger warning: This is a story of things that go BUMP in the night. It is a factual account.

Once upon a wild Friday evening, when the clocks were nearing nine, the mother and the father looked at one another and agreed that they should go to bed soon. The baby had been sleeping for an hour at least, and, as you may gather, they kept dissipated hours in this household.

Out of doors it was a clear night, no clouds nor wind to speak of, nor any physical sign that in a few short days, the moon would be eclipsing the sun in broad daylight with an entire nation watching. No, it was an ordinary night, and they intended to sleep soon.

You know as well as I do, however, how way leads on to way, and how good resolutions for bedtime may be brushed aside in favor of wilder pursuits: games of Catan, cups of chamomile tea, or the novels of Thackeray. The minutes crept along, and the clocks, nearing ten, saw the mother and the father still wide awake in their living room, pouring over videos of their progeny at tenderer ages, reminiscing in light of his recent natal day. Nostalgia wove its golden spell round them and held them in thrall.

The night continued calm and clear out of doors. A lizard silently crossed the attic above their heads. The baby slept.

And then. Something went bump. How that bump made them jump!

“Bump” is a poor word to describe the sound, as it was of longer duration and had a more catastrophic quality than “bump” can express.

Startled from their reverie, the mother and the father were immediately on their feet. Had furniture fallen somewhere? Had someone forced an entrance? Had a tree come down upon the house? The baby emitted only one cry, and the mother was solicitous for his corner of the house — perhaps that magnolia tree?

The father was on his way outside, looking for a light, looking for shoes. The mother was on her way to check on the baby, who was — to her great relief — whimpering. But outside his door she cast a glance to her right, through the doorway of the room in which she was meant to be sleeping.

And she saw it. In the dimness, something large and white and broken, where only the wooden floor should have been, and above, where the white ceiling ought to have been, a gaping blackness. She called to the father: “Our ceiling fell down!”

 

And she gathered the baby out of his crib — though his ceiling was intact — and together the three of them surveyed the carnage.

There had been a crack. They had seen it — stared up at it by lamplight in those moments when it was too much effort to turn off the lamp, and in the rare mornings when they stayed late enough in bed for daylight to penetrate round the curtains. But ceilings often have cracks. Ceilings do not often fall.

The dreamy quality of the night was broken, and they had only shaky laughter, as they picked over the debris to collect the necessities for a night spent out of the bedroom. They slept poorly in the baby’s room and on the couch, and woke to realize that, indeed, the ceiling had fallen down.

The morals of story, which are several, proceed thusly: Firstly, when you see a crack in your ceiling, make haste to repair it! Secondly, if you can avoid an elderly house in which the ceiling boards are second to dubious rafters with insufficient nails, do so. Thirdly, if you are inclined to stay up later than usual, you are wise; you may avoid being interred beneath your bedroom ceiling.

In all seriousness, however, what grace, not to be in bed already. And to have our parents already planning to spend the following day at our house, so that there were willing hands available to begin the clean-up process. And for my husband to have already taken the following week off work, though we didn’t know the ceiling would fall. The house is still more or less enveloped in dust, and the contents of our bedroom have erupted into all the other rooms, but their is a new, better ceiling now in place, and I get to repaint the walls, because the room is empty and it will be easy. And we have this story. 

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): try

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How do you write when you haven’t been writing, and the words go in circles and your mind is walking with your husband and baby at the park? Try.

How, when the dust is thick on everything, and the laundry wants folding, and there are crumbs under the table? Try.

Write the blue sky outside the window, the squirrel crouched on a mossy branch, the pink crepe myrtle, and the way you can already see the damp heat of Mississippi August hanging between the tree and the power lines over the road.

Write the square of sunshine on the carpet, with its shadow-border of pothos leaves, the spinning fan on the ceiling, the red oval clock ticking on the wall.

Write the baby’s chunky legs, walking and walking and walking this week. Write the way he holds your head in his sticky hands and smiles that smile into your eyes, and you can hardly breathe for love of him.

And when the five minutes is up, realize that you don’t have to try anymore, because there are more words than time, and like so many forms of obedience, the hardest part was simply to begin.

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Linking up today — for the first time in a long time — for Five Minute Friday, to write on this week’s prompt, try. The button above will take you to the FMF site, where you can read all about it.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch