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: joy (small and glad, day 23)

(You’ll notice that I’ve skipped days 21 and 22 . . . because I missed them. And I might catch up sometime, but today is day 23, so I’m writing it.)

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The RSVPs have been coming in. It’s amazing how small and glad this makes me feel.

Overwhelmed really, that so many people are willing to travel so far just to celebrate my wedding. Overwhelmed, feeling so very loved.

The gifts have been doing that to me, too: generous packages arriving from hither and yon, with sweet notes. . . . and I really just had no idea.

Every year I’m overwhelmed by my birthday on social media. I’ve made it a rule to actually type a “thank you” on each “Happy Birthday,” and it leaves me feeling so very very glad.

But this: a gift, a road-trip, a plane ticket? (And-food-and-clothes-and-flowers-and-decorations-and-plates-and-cups-and-signs-and . . .?) For my day?

I’m not trying to sound like a #basicwhitegirl, but I literally can’t even.

I used to think that getting married was all about the love between two people, and it is — I mean, that’s why it happens — but this wedding is about how a huge number of other people love the two of us.

And, well, I’m grateful.

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Today I join Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers to write on her prompt, joy. The “joy” button above will take you to her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: wait

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In the front yard, daffodils prepare to bloom. It feels like a long preparation, though it’s only weeks, really, since they first started appearing, the green pushing up through matted leaves and around fallen twigs, pushing up through frosted ground which seems much too hard for the tender stalks.

But now the stems stand above the greenery, lifting slender green-yellow buds, ready to burst open, lovely and soon.

I read an article that said we’re more creative when we’re sad, and it’s true that I haven’t felt much like writing lately. Rather than feeling inspired, I’m just feeling glad.

Yet I’m convinced that God’s creation was not born out of sorrow: His joy reverberates through each “Let there be in Genesis 1.” For His pleasure He created all things, and He declared them “very good.”

For now, watching and waiting on His workings, I am content to be simply glad. Soon enough fresh creations will burst forth to make this waiting glorious.

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Today I link up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crew. The button above will take you to her site, our gathering place.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: send

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“Send out your light and your truth;” the Psalmist prays,
“let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.”
Psalm 43:3

After a week of cold gray mornings, we have a cold bright morning. My car windshield was coated in literal frost over which I had to pour warm water before I could see to go anywhere.

The horizon of the road headed east was rosy with anticipation, and suddenly, above the trees, there was the sun in all the orange intensity of seven o’clock.

My heart sang, and birds flew eagerly eastward over the road, and the fields wore soft winter-white frost, and the trees were silver against the pink and blue sky.

And in the God whose glory the heavens declare I had exceeding joy.

Christ himself is light and truth. His word is light and truth. But also, sometimes, He sends out his literal earthly light to lead me to worship Him.

Singing hymns all down the highway, I thanked Him for this grace.

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Today I join Kate Motaung to write on her Five Minute Friday prompt “send.” The “Send” button above will send you to her blog where you can join in the fun and read what others have written.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five-Minute Friday: Joy

They say that children thrive best when they know their boundaries, and know that those boundaries will be — albeit lovingly — enforced.

I’ve always liked having rules myself, coloring in the lines, pleased to understand where I belonged and to remain there.

And I so find a certain kind of relief in having a door upon which I’d somewhat reluctantly knocked definitely be closed to me today, to know that, however good the opportunity might have been, it is not mine to pursue. Joy, in coming up against a boundary.

They aren’t always joyful, are they? We run into walls, beat our heads against them, angry, often, at the God who prevents and prevents in seemingly unnecessary ways.

But even then. Even then, we know that He is the loving Father, enforcing boundaries that are for our benefit, showing us where we belong and keeping us there.

It’s easy to believe it on this lovely second day of spring, when my world is beginning to come out in blossoms and life seems full of pleasant places.

Lord, teach me to take joy in the boundaries on the dark days, as well.

Thanks, Lisa-Jo!

Joining Lisa-Jo and the rest who are blogging on “joy” today. To read more, or join in yourself, use the button above!

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: Fight

Ezra reports that when the returned exiles in Jerusalem laid the foundation of the new house of the Lord, “the people shouted with a great shout,” but that old men, who had seen the first temple — the glorious one that Solomon built — “wept with a loud voice . . . so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping” (Ezra 3:11-13).

G. K. Chesterton observes that “worries are never anything but worries, however we turn them round. But a sorrow is always a joy reversed” (The Return of Don Quixote).

It’s Five Minute Friday, and today’s word is “fight.” Last month, my theme seemed to be “Be still; be quiet; wait.” And I wonder how fighting and waiting relate to one another. We think of fighting as tumultuous, but so often stillness is battle-won. We must fight to be still.

And sometimes, when I am waiting, outwardly calm, inside I have battle-tumult. Reverse me, turn me inside out, and find the reverse side of the stillness is a fight.

It seems the Israelites did not fight their captivity. They lived in far-away Persia, and built homes and livelihoods, raised families, held government jobs, waited quietly. Was it a fight to keep still? A fight to see pagan kings drinking from the holy vessels of the house of God? A fight to give up beautiful daughters to the lusts of pagan kings, to send them, at risk of their lives to petition for favors?

Were they still in their returning? Did those old ones, who remembered Solomon’s temple, keep outwardly calm as the sorrow of captivity was reversed into the joy of a homecoming? And there, in the new temple foundation, sorrow and joy met one another, each the reverse of the other, combining in one indistinguishable shout.

Is that mingled shout always the greeting for the fulfillment of waiting? All the sorrow of the wait, the pain of the fight to keep still against all the things taken away, all the things denied, meeting finally the joy of things restored, things granted?

Let your waiting be a fight. Keep still and watch for the dawning of the One who reverses the sorrows, prepares joy for us.

Thanks, Lisa-Jo!Use the button above if you want to join in the Five Minute Friday fun, or just read more posts on the prompt. (You can break the rules, like I’ve done, and write for more minutes than specified.) You can also be encouraged by posts like this one from a friend of mine: Fight. And Light.

©2013 by Stacy Nott

“a fiercer delight”

“What we need is not the cold acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening.”
–G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

I don’t tend to think of doctors’ waiting rooms as spots for serious reading. Usually, they’re places to glance through magazines, feeling somehow especially distinct from the celebrities whose lives are paraded there, the recipes which never quite look as beautiful in your kitchen as on the magazine page, the locations you’ll only ever dream of going. They’re also places for people-watching: speculations about the things that bring the people there, grins or grimaces at the children behaving or misbehaving.

An oncologist’s waiting room leaves a smaller scope for speculation. Most of the faces there aren’t smiling. The baby girl — there with her grandparents — who tiptoes and flirts with the patients makes a welcome center of attention: beautiful, alive, growing.

Somehow, though, waiting there this week, I found Chesterton to be exactly the thing. He summons to an intense love of life and of this world, a sense of ownership: “A man,” he says, “belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. . . . [It] is not a lodging-house at Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is, the less we should leave it. The point is not that this world is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness is a reason for loving it more.”

It’s tempting to feel, in an oncologist’s waiting room, that you may be waiting for a death sentence. Which is silly, because every birth certificate is a death sentence; we don’t need a doctor to tell us that. Even so, when an oncologist tells you to take a daily aspirin and “just be normal” — even with the knowledge that some obscure genetic switch is permanently stuck “on” — it feels like a grand and unlikely escape.

All the spring I lived in the realm of “surly contentment,” grudgingly acknowledging God’s right to rule as He pleased, but resenting that pleasure, which seemed, in almost-daily news of engagements, weddings, births, to mock my longest-held dreams: “You may not, but, see? These others may.” I wrestled, all the strength of my fingers behind the preposterous project of keeping as “mine” the things not given to me.

And then there came His whisper: Your very life is Mine, with all ordained days written before one of them came to be, before you ever waited in an oncologist’s office. His. All of it, from the white lashes with which He marked me eighteen years ago, down to the very cells of blood without which I would die, and yet which threaten to betray me. This, all of this, is His.

To be alive, quite apart from extra gifts and graces, is a gift and a grace. It is a “solid and startling fact,” observes Chesterton, “that any man in the street is a Great Might-Not-Have-Been.”

The fact that I am? Extraordinary. I want to live in the joy of that, fiercely loving this gift which was mine before I could assess its value, fiercely fighting all that would steal or dilute this joy. I want to live in courage, as Chesterton defines it.

“It means,” he says, “a strong desire to live, taking the form of a readiness to die. ‘He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,’ is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors and mountaineers. . . . A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. . . . He must seek life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.”

We drink His death, Who for joy swallowed sorrow, Who for our healing was wounded: this wine of death, living water welling up to eternal life. Drink, live, and thirst no more.