Category Archives: Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday :: Sing A Song of Ascent

I haven’t done this for awhile, but I’m diving in today to write for five minutes flat on the word “Sing”. Find more five-minute essays or join the conversation here.

I cannot. Sing, that is. I warble along with songs on the radio or on my I-phone and I put my heart into worship on Sundays, but singing solo is just not my thing. And believe me — you wouldn’t want it to be.

I camped out in the Psalms of Ascent during Holy Week (Psalms 120-134) and I couldn’t help myself. I lifted my voice to chant holy songs that have carried words of praise, cries of lament, choruses of gratitude to the ear of God for thousands of years.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

Verses like these prepared my spirit for the darkness and the beauty of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. When our gathering of believers burst into song on Easter, I was ready and willing to sing with abandon.

As I read the 15 Psalms of Ascent, I thought of David, author of several of them and “a man after God’s own heart.” It is from his seed that Christ descended. His lifelong journey was filled with song. He was a man wont to celebrate with undignified abandon when filled with the joy of his Lord.

David Crowder expresses David’s joy in one of my favorite praise songs, “Undignified”. Enjoy.

I will dance, I will sing to be mad for my King
Nothing more that’s hindering, there’s passion in my soul
I will dance, I will sing to be mad for my King
Nothing more that’s hindering, there’s passion in my soul

I’ll become even more undignified than this
Some may say it’s foolishness
But I’ll become even more undignified than this, oh yes

 

 

Celebrate :: A Five Minute Party in the Trenches

It’s raining and my “to do” list is long, my prayer list even longer.

The house needs cleaned. There are bills to pay.

My elderly parents need help packing up their home and downsizing for their move to an apartment.

I have sons in distant cities with needs and trials I can no longer handle with a hug and a band-aid.

I have dear friends facing trials and seeking wisdom as we journey together.

It doesn't exactly feel like a party around here, but today I'll celebrate life in the trenches. Click To Tweet

Celebrating on a rainy Friday when my burdens feel as heavy as the misty air in my Indiana valley, I declare that God has already taken them in hand. He knows their weight and has taken them all, one by one, and gone before me. He knew they would be here on this exact day at this exact time and He knows their outcome.

I celebrate because I can pray and cry out and open my hands to release them all to Him, and then follow Him where He leads to join in the work He is already doing.

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These words face me every morning as I sit in my prayer perch, seeking God and pleading for wisdom.

I celebrate today that the Lord is my strength, because today I am weak. In His strength I can face down that list of prayers and responsibilities and heartaches. In His strength I can find wisdom to not only endure, but conquer.

Cut the cake, toss the confetti and sing “Hallelujah”! Jesus is on the throne and He is King.

 

Celebrating today with other Five-Minute-Friday-4bloggers at Five Minute Friday.

 

 

Yes :: I’ll Take Some ‘Joy and Fulfillment’

I did it again this morning.

I ate breakfast in front of the morning news, flipped open my netbook, dropped in on Facebook, answered an e-mail and settled in to write this blog post.

It was then the Lord gently tapped me on the shoulder and said “Yes?”

Didn’t I just say “Yes” to him on Monday — on that day of fresh starts and new beginnings?

Yes, God. I’ll kneel before You first this morning and every morning. Before I kneel at the altar of the World, I’ll be at your feet, seeking your face.

Yes, God. I want yours to be the first voice I hear every day, the first opinion I pick up, the only wisdom I’ll need to point me in the right direction.

Yes, Father. I desire to know you BEST, better than my best friend, my favorite blogger or the funniest animal videos on the Worldwide Web.

Was that “yes” a lie, an empty promise, wistful thinking? Or was it a response to a hunger in my soul that I know only God can satisfy?

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10

God created me for “yes”. My devotions from Charles Stanley today remind me that “humans are designed to derive joy and fulfillment from being in God’s presence.”

I said “yes” again today to joy and fulfillment, and I pray that tomorrow the Lord won’t have to remind me of my promises.

Over the past several months, I have been praying prayers penned by Steven James in his book “A Heart Exposed”. I’ll share one with you today:

Bread of Life, you are full of promises; I’ve heard them echo deep within me: longings and dreams for a better day, a brighter day. This world, stunning though it is, doesn’t satisfy the part of me that’s the most hungry.

Eternity calls to me, transcendence tugs at me, and wonder whispers to me whenever I hear your story.

I have a nagging thirst for more than this world can provide.

Deepen it.

Free all the heavenly longings encased in the stony prison of my heart.

Sharing thoughts today at Five Minute Friday. 

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Try :: More Than a Summer Soldier

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

American philosopher, patriot and founding father Thomas Paine penned those words nearly 140 years ago. Some days, I feel as if he wrote them for me, not for the soldiers fighting to create a new, free nation.

Because some days are easier than others. They just are. The days the sun is shining and it’s summertime in my heart, it’s easy to stand on the front lines, strong in the fight.

Then there are those days — often drawing out into weeks — that seem to present one challenge after another. You overcome the first grief or battle, and another arrives on its heels. One storm after another.

A weaker woman gives in to discouragement, disappointment, defeat. You are not that woman. #fmf Click To Tweet

You not only try. You conquer.

When our souls are “tried” we know that it’s not enough to just try, to simply cope. Victory comes in finding the good and the truth in the battle. What good can come of this? With God as our Commander, much good can come and usually does.

Our challenge is to have “ears that hear and eyes that see — the Lord has made them both.” Proverbs 20:12

In choosing to stand strong on the battle front — in choosing to keep trying in trying times — we declare that God is the victor.

And we are more than summer soldiers.

Five-Minute-Friday-4Linking up today at Five Minute Friday to write for 5 minutes on the prompt “Try”

Ten :: Putting Gratitude at the Top of my List

I read that book some years back. Just devoured it, actually. “One Thousand Gifts” — counting all the ways the Lord blesses and actually THANKING HIM for the blessings.

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So I began my list: ten things I am grateful for every day. My goal was a thousand, and beyond.

Where is that list today? Haven’t a clue. When did my striving to stir up thankfulness — “eucharisteo” — fall by the wayside?

Was it when our children became adults, left home and the house became silent?

Thank you, Jesus, that they are healthy and safe.

When our business grew and my work load increased and my husband worked late?

Thank you, Jesus, for financial security and success.

When friends presented needs and prayer became a necessity?

Thank you, Jesus, for cherished friendships.

When God pointed me toward work outside our home?

Thank you, Jesus, for new friends and coffee.

When the absent sons could no longer tend our lawn and it became my job?

Thank you, Jesus, for the beauty of our hillside home.

When my parents called and asked “please drive us here”?

Thank you, Jesus, that my Mom and Dad are still with me.

When the need to update our home stirred me to buy paint and brushes?

Thank you, Jesus, for the health and strength to do simple tasks.

When the writing projects came and I began feeling overwhelmed?

Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of words.

When good books and Bible studies consumed my time?

Thank you, Jesus, for Your Word and words that inspire.

When long walks became prayer walks.

Thank you, Jesus, for never leaving my side.

Ten, and more. The “gifts” just keep piling up.

Thank you, Jesus.

Linking up today at Five Minute Friday to write for just 5 minutes on the word “ten”.

 

 

 

 

When It’s Time To Close the Door: Five Minute Friday

My first thoughts on this first day of May were about the newness of this season. As I looked out my bedroom window at the green grass, sunshine, budding trees, I thought “fresh starts”.

Oh, how I love them.

Do-overs, new days, new seasons.

Open doors.

But the thing about open doors is that to enter them, we must leave something behind. Close a door, if you will.

Unlike “Let’s Make A Deal”, there are not just three doors to choose from in our lives. Three doors to open, or to leave closed. There are many. And, again unlike the game show, once we choose one, we’re not stuck with it.

Grace. God’s grace allows us to turn away from a wrongly chosen door, to close it and say “not for me”.

He’s the King of fresh starts, do-overs, new days, new seasons.

What door do you need to close today? What choices have you made that you know were wrong — choices you wish you could walk away from?

You can, you know. You have a grace-filled, forgiving Savior who says “It’s time for a fresh start. Begin a new day. Close that door. Choose me.”

When we choose — whether it’s door number one, two or three — we have the assurance that He’s already paid the price.

Five-Minute-Friday-4Linking up today at Five Minute Friday as I write for just five minutes on the word DOOR.

When the Nest Is Empty, What Will Come To Fill It?

Writing today on the subject “FILL” along with other bloggers posting at Five Minute Friday. Join me here to see what others are saying in their five minutes of writing.
I dipped my hand into the clothespin bag, searching for a couple of pins to secure the freshly washed sheets. Instead I pulled out twigs and feathers. A nest. A mother bird had chosen this safe spot to create a home. I laid the bag on the ground to shake out the twigs and heard chirping from within. Two babies still snuggled deep in the bag. As they dropped out on the ground, two of our barn cats who had been lurking nearby snatched them up. I wanted to cry.
The innocent babies must have wondered what happened — safe and warm one minute, terrified at the end of their short lives the next.
In this week after moving my youngest out of the nest into his new home eight hours away, I feel a little like that mother bird must feel as she flies back to her carefully crafted nest, now in a heap on the ground. How did this happen? WHEN did this happen?
Life is very different for this “mother bird” today. Thirty years of full-time mothering has wound down and I’m in a season of wondering what will come to fill my days. And as I’ve prayed through this transition, God has given me this one promise:
“If you will be still and wait on ME, I will fill your days.”
So I am doing just that. I’m not rushing after the next thing. I’m waiting — with expectancy and excitement. I trust Him and I believe He will fill these days.

Everything Old Will Be New Again

5minutefridayI’m sharing 5 minutes of non-stop, unedited reflection today along with other writers at Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt: Messenger

When it’s 1:30 a.m. and you can’t sleep and you’ve just finished a very satisfying novel (and you’re not ready to jump into a new one), what do you do?

You write. At least I do.

It’s not like I have anything profound to say at this hour. But there are these thoughts, keeping me awake. Thoughts of a new life, a fourth son welcomed into my friend’s family yesterday. Of my own grown sons embarking on adventures that could take them far from home.

Of a dear friend watching the waning of her much-loved mother’s life, as illness drains color from her mother’s cheeks and keeps her in her bed.

And of changes coming in my church family as pastors respond to God’s call on their lives and people I’ve grown to love learn how to walk in this new reality.

This life rests on shifting sands. Nothing stays the same. A new creation awakens as one that is spent fades. New roles replace old and we adjust and life goes on.

If there is a message to be shared at this hour, in these days stretching out to the fullness of summer, it is this:

Nothing stays the same; everything old will be new again.

And while I cannot slow the spin of my world, I can lean into the One who holds it all together, and who makes sense out of chaos.

Five Minute Friday: Glue

It’s what He created you to be. When He fashioned this family and set you at the center of it, God knew what they needed. You’re the glue that holds it together.

Dear friend, you struggle today with the burden of your role. Caught between the children who still need you and the mother that suddenly needs you. Then there’s the husband that will always need you, and the friends who know now is not the time to need you.

So, you keep moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing. Because it’s what we do, we women who are the “glue”. We keep it together and hope it sticks.

Praise God we don’t do it alone. You know that, and so do I. We know where to turn when the going gets tough. Some days it’s a tricky balance and we get off track and things just seem like they might fall apart. But we keep moving forward.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-15

We do it because we can’t do anything else. We’re the glue, and we press on.

 

Lisa-Jo-Baker-FMFI’m linking up with the writers at Five Minute Friday. Hop on over and join the conversation.

Am I a Writer?

5minutefridayJoin me today with others writing here at Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog “Five Minute Friday”. Our prompt for today is “Writer.”

 

Planning my wardrobe for next week’s Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Mi, I have to stop and ask myself:

Am I a writer?

Sure, I blog and I write for a couple of local publications. And I hope someday to see my byline in a national periodical or (gasp) on the front of a published book.

But am I a writer?

I’ll be surrounded by great writers for three days next week, some whose names make my heart skip a beat (Anne Lamott, James McBride, Rachel Held Evans, Bret Lott, Luci Shaw) and others I’ve yet to discover. Heady company for a lifelong bibliophile.

To be a writer, what words must one write? And who must see it?

The words that have given me the most satisfaction are those of my father, spoken to me in afternoons spent at his kitchen table, capturing his life on video and in my notes. Those memories of growing up during the depression, of serving his country in the United States Air Force, of raising a family and delivering the mail — those words are the ones I treasure most.

I gathered Dad’s memories, wrapped them around collected photographs of the handsome soldier, the industrious little boy, and entrusted them to a local printer. On Father’s Day 2012, I gave Dad his gift — 50 copies of his life in words, “One Man’s Work”.

It won’t win a Pulitzer, but the slim volume of stories made Dad a celebrity in my home town. All 50 copies were given away or sold, and now Dad’s offspring, for generations to come, will have a record of their ancestor’s life in a little Midwestern town.

Am I a writer?

Yes.