Five Minute Friday: different

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3:03 in the afternoon, and at last the sun has managed to penetrate our gray cloud ceiling and come slanting in the window to cast my shadow against the red couch. I’ve been waiting for it all day.

It’s amazing how much warmer 40 degrees Fahrenheit feels when the sun is shining, and how little motivation I feel to be outside when it isn’t shining.

It’s there either way. I saw it on my morning walk — a bright spot behind the clouds — and I knew that if only it could break through, the morning would have been different.

When the Psalmist prays that God will “cause his face to shine upon us,” this is the image we need, isn’t it? Not that a day passes without his face illumining our world, but sometimes, though we know he’s there, all is gray in our world under the clouds.

We want to see and feel, not just intellectually know, that he is with us. And he came to us, a baby named Emmanuel, to make that point evident.

It’s the light of that truth which lends glory to gray days this Christmas season.

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Linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew on the last Five Minute Friday of 2017 — different. The button above takes you to the FMF page.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday (on Monday): only

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The Christmas tree in the corner, surprise snow on Friday, a schedule quickly filling with festivities of all varieties . . . . somehow, weaving in and out through all the carols of glory this past week, I’ve had a crucifixion hymn singing.

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, see him dying on the tree.
‘Tis the Christ by man rejected; yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
‘Tis the long expected prophet, David’s Son yet David’s Lord.
By His Son God now has spoken, ’tis the 
true and faithful Word.

I sing it, laying my toddler down for his nap, and gathering gifts on the table for wrapping.

This is the thing which makes the Christmas story one of such breathtaking splendor: not only that God clothed Himself in a frail human body and cried with the helpless cries of a human baby, but that He did it for the purpose of hanging on the tree for us.

Ye who think of sin but lightly, nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.

Mark the sacrifice appointed, see who bears the awful load!
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s anointed, Son of man, and Son of God.*

The dark backdrop for the glory of the Christmas night is the darkness of our sin. Only keeping this in view can we rightly grasp the wild joy of our Christmas celebrations:

Behold in the manger the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

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Today I link with the Five Minute Friday community to write (loosely) on last week’s prompt, only. The button above will take you to the Five Minute Friday site and more posts about only.

*hymn by Thomas Kelly

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

 

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!