Category: Five-Minute Friday

We are moving toward one of the biggest changes in our lives: retirement. Mental and tangible lists are being made of more and more to-dos. Seventeen months seems a long time but we know the closer it gets the faster it will seem to fly.

Because we’ve lived in a furnished parsonage for 25 years there isn’t a lot of big stuff to consider. But it’s always the little things, isn’t it?

There’s the box of Granny’s dishes that have been in a few garages over the years. Next to those are boxes of our son’s trophies and childhood things. How long do I hold on to things in a box? Things we open with every move and close again knowing we can decide later.

Later is now.

There will be things to let go but I’m starting to see some I’ll have to surrender.

We will not have employees who look to us for leadership. We won’t have men looking to us for hope. There won’t be the endless hugs and hands offering to help before I can ask.

There will be a kind of status and even power that will be given up. The word surrender seems fitting as we’re giving up with an ache in our hearts.

It’s a word that conjures up pictures of a white flag. It’s what you do when you’re defeated when your brother gets you in an arm lock not letting go until you say “I give”. Typically, surrender implies your whole heart isn’t in the letting go. It signals defeat.

Even as we head toward a time we look forward to, there is that piece that clings. Sadly, we often do the same with things we must let go. We cling to the old habits that are killing us: smoking, gossip, pride….. When Jesus is calling us to lay them down. Wave the white flag, open your heart and surrender them all to Him.

This is the only surrender where we win.

A friend penned these words in a short song that is what we are pressing toward. May this song bring comfort and blessing to you.

Liking up with Five-Minute Friday.

faith Five-Minute Friday

I need directions, a list, a pattern a plan. I need to know where I’m going and how to get there. I don’t like starting a day aimlessly. Some days my intention is simple: show up. Even with that comes preparation.

I don’t start an art project without a plan. I can’t sew without a pattern and it’s taken me years of making the same dish to finally stop looking at the recipe.

There is comfort in having a map not only for travel directions but for life.

It’s taken me years, but I’m getting to a point where I am finding a freedom to wonder. Not far and not without intention but allowing myself to give free form to more of life.

A free form design

Being flexible is becoming more purposeful and more comfortable. There is a new inner peace in trusting myself to ‘color outside the lines‘. For me, this is only possible because of a solid foundation of faith.

The closer I get to trusting God’s love for me (meaning to actually believe it through my actions) the more my fears of creativity are released. It’s a slow growth for me. I want things to look right – whatever that is. I want plans to work – the first time.

I still need a plan. I still need the travel apps on my smart phone. I have to start with a pattern. But what’s a plan without the follow-through?…..(A wish)

Linking up with Five-Minute Friday

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faith Five-Minute Friday

Photo by Anne Preble on Unsplash

Three remote controls rest on our coffee table. One controls the basic operations, another controls enhanced sound and yet another will engage streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix.

I’ve tried throwing them but that doesn’t seem to help my confusion.

At the grocery store, the bread aisle that once offered whole wheat or white is now filled with so many choices you can spend 5 minutes in an internal debate over which to buy.

I remember a time that seemed simpler. When there was one remote control and streaming was something that might be coming from your child’s diaper.

You can’t even find simple instructions for cold medications without wading through the extensive list of side-effects and ingredients. Just tell me how much to take, how often!

I do like simple.

We live in a country of abundance. It’s a blessing, mostly. Right?

Sometimes it’s not much better in church. So many messages, so many views, more and more Bible translations and paraphrases that it’s hard to hear the clear and simple call of Jesus.

When it’s all too much and I want to silence the noise I remind myself of all that really matters. Two simple commands Jesus reminds us of: love God and love others.

That’s it. That’s what all the voices and words and stories and parables boil down to. In the simplest form, we are to above all, love God and then love others. Not some god but the God. Not some others but all others.

We complicate. God makes it simply clear.

Linking up for Five-Minute Friday, a free-writing word prompt hosted by Kate Motaung

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faith Five-Minute Friday

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

I burrowed deeper into the warm covers unstirred by the word prompt: motivate. It didn’t; motivate me that is.

Motivation and inspiration have been elusive. I’ve wanted to fell their push and pull but it’s not there.

Get up a little earlier to show my body proper care by exercising? See warm covers as mentioned above.

Discipline to journal daily, step away from the sweets and be more attentive to others have been waning as I wait for some external motivation. Basically, I want to feel like it.

There is the faint whisper of words from a friend: You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.

It’s not so much about liking it as it is feeling the magical inspiration. That thing I want to bubble up from within that has me eagerly doing lunges and crunches. The endless creativity to stage still life photographs or tapping out brilliant essays on my laptop.

Isn’t that the way it works for everyone else?

Of course, it isn’t. But if we convince ourselves of that we’ll never start. Because the truth is inspiration isn’t something that magically appears but something we create.

If I sit at my keyboard and tap out word after word whether I feel like it or not, inspiration will come. That inspiration will spur me to continue this practice.

It reminds me of a quote by Thomas Edison who said:

Opportunity is missed because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.

The same can be said of motivation and inspiration. They aren’t mystical but rather made from discipline, and looks like work. Ugh!

Or, as Nike says, “Just do it!” It promises much satisfaction.

Five-Minute Friday

 

I went through grade school in the 60’s. We all seemed to dress alike. Girls wore dresses that were the same length, ankle socks and similar styles of shoes. Like other moms of that time, mama made some of my clothes. I fit in and to fit in has always meant acceptance.

It was in 5th grade when one particularly obnoxious boy made mean remarks about my dress, a dress mama made. I still remember it’s empire waist and medium-sized vertical stripes in autumn colors. A ribbon went around the high waist to complete the fashionable style. It was the last time I wore that dress.

To be different in any way meant to stand out and all I wanted was to fit in.

That would become increasingly hard in our church, a church whose members wear uniforms. When I told my dad I didn’t want to wear a uniform he told me everyone has uniforms. He pointed out my generation had chosen jeans as our uniform. I didn’t like it when he was right like that.

Maybe it’s ironic that one of my favorite scripture portions tells us not to be conformed to the world. The Message puts it this way:

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.” Romans 12:2

Noted theologian, R.C. Sproul, said: “The Christian life is a life of non-conformity.”

This isn’t easy for someone who is more comfortable with blending in. Oh, I want to stand out but just a little. You know, a memorable laugh or smile.

Yes, our church members and clergy still wear uniforms. And I alternate between a certain pride and exhaustion of explaining it all.

But I understand the dangers of conformity have nothing to do with outward appearance. It’s about the heart. If we call ourselves followers of Jesus we need a different heart, a purpose not shared by all. We need to stand out in ways that others want what we have. Our joy and peace need to shine like a city on a hill.

It’s not an easy call. We will often go against the flow of popular culture. But it’s a worthy call.

“Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.” Romans 12:2 the VOICE

Linking up with Kate Motaung for Five-Minute Friday

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faith Five-Minute Friday Salvation Army

Bright lights line our house and encircle our palm trees. Snowmen, tiny trees, letters spelling out JOY and Nativities fill our shelves. It’s Christmas time!

These symbols are outward signs of the celebration that’s in our heart.

It’s as if we’re celebrating with the world. Neighbors have their houses and trees lit. People seem brighter and lighter. We’re not the only ones who can feel this.

What is it about colored lights and tinsel that, as the song says, makes spirits bright? Is that all it takes t make us kinder to one another?

We may not all be celebrating for the same reason but I like these moments of feeling a shared joy. In a community where few know their neighbors, conversations are struck as we admire each other’s display of the season.

Could it be that these twinkling lights are a reflection of the Light? Is this a preview of kingdom come? A kingdom that will be diverse in language and tradition. A kingdom of believers who have shared little on the outside but cling to the Only one who is the true reason for celebration.

Linking up with Kate Motaung for Five-Minute Friday.

 

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faith Five-Minute Friday

Are we almost there? 

How much longer?

Closer, baby, we’re getting closer.

journey

In our ever-expanding world, proximity matters. We are fooled to believe technology can fill the role of deep friendship. That being part of an online community can satisfy our need for up-close-and-personal.

I write those words as I plan to contribute them to just one of the online communities I’m part of.

Yes, I’ve developed friends with people I only know from a screen. No, there’s no way that can come close to living life with another.

The photography class I’ve taken online has taught me about still life photography and provided live interactive opportunities with others in the group.

Still, not a substitute for sitting around with others discussing whatever is the topic of the day.

We are even allowing the online church to substitute the gathering with others, messy as we are, to come closer to Christ.

I wonder if Jesus knew. In words written thousands of years ago, we were counseled to not neglect our meeting together. Hebrews 10:25

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

We live busy lives. We are more mobile and transient and it takes effort to get close to others. Efforts that can be exhausting. I get it. I’m part of it.

I lament a younger generation that may never know the depth of personal connection. The kind that comes from actually being in person. Or is that thinking passe?

We are living centuries after Jesus walked and might wonder how we can be close to him. Maybe it starts with gathering together. In any way, any form we can for the purpose of encouraging each other. To learn more about who Jesus is. And to let Him transform our lives.

From the song, Draw Me Close, by the Katinas:

You’re all I want
You’re all I’ve ever needed
You’re all I want
Help me know you are near

Linking up with Kate Motaung for Five-Minute Friday

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faith Five-Minute Friday

It’s too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy,

IT’S TOO HUMID!

I’m too old, too young, too tired, too broke.

I forgot.

I overslept.

It was too boring.

Excuses are unlimited. I could fill a tiny house with them. Some of them are legitimate but if we’re trying to make progress, they’re unacceptable.

Recently, I’ve realized I’ll choose the easy way over more practice or more work. I’m satisfied with average or just a bit better than whoever is next to me.

There’s nothing wrong with average but I wonder if we’re called to more? Not for the purpose of measuring but because God gives us his best.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[a] his own glory and excellence,2 Peter 1:3 ESV

My mind is running through a list of reasons of why I can’t do something today. Reasons sound better than excuses but the meaning, and the result is the same.

As Craig Groeschel says, we can make excuses or progress but we can’t make both. Sometimes truth feels harsh. Especially on a Friday morning 🙂

Linking up with Kate Motaung for Five-Minute Friday

Five-Minute Friday

Their independent living apartment was at the back of the property. A birdhouse stood in their bit of backyard divided from empty fields by a chain link fence. It was usually quiet enough to hear the flutter of the bird’s wings as they arranged moss in their nest. In the afternoon, the silence was split by military planes flying back to their Naval base.

In contrast, our neatly kept green backyard is noisy with the sounds of traffic from the 4 lanes on the other side of our privacy fence.

Our office sits on a busy street where road construction never seems to end and sirens blare past on a regular basis.

Is there a store or restaurant anywhere that doesn’t play music constantly? It seems we can’t escape an unwanted soundtrack for our daily life.

I was raised in a house where the t.v. supplied background noise. It was always on. Even if no one was watching it.

It seems to provide a comforting white noise for some. Or maybe it’s just a way to protect ourselves from a silence that asks us to listen.

God-given gifts

 

The inside of my in-law’s apartment was as quiet as the outside. She would sit in the silence as her fingers worked the intricate cross-stitch designs. The tick of the kitchen clock seemed to be magnified by the silence. I don’t know how she could stand it. TICK – TICK – TICK – TICK….

Her Bible and devotionals were stacked nearby. I’m sure the words she’d read earlier in the day were the sounds she played in her mind as she worked in the quiet. She chose the sounds of truth over the noise of the world.

I’ve learned to appreciate the quiet more. To turn off the noises and open myself to what the heart needs to hear. I have a long way to go, but it seems to start with the sounds of silence.

What do you hear in the silence?

LInking up with Kate Motaung for Five-Minute Friday.

faith family Five-Minute Friday

To walk into the bedroom of our 10-year old granddaughter is to be on sensory overload. Her room is littered, I mean arrnged, with stuffed animals, clothes, shoes, dolls, Legos, more clothes and shoes, drawings, papers, books….did I say clothes?

It takes a lot of coaxing to get her to clean out what she doesn’t need.

I know the differenc between need and want but it’s still something I struggle with myself at times.

Writer, Emily Freeman, recently talked about the essentials. That’s a word with weight. It means absolutely necessary; extremely important.  It’s a word that needs more than a 10-year old maturity to understand. American Girl dolls are essential to her like health insurance is to us. (Oh for the days of childhood!)

Our retirment date is growing closer each day. Two years from now. Lord willing, we will be in another city, another house, another life. Even now, I am considering what our needs will be. The obvious ones are easy. We will need furnishings for the house. We’ve lived in furnished parsonages the past 23 years so this is a big thing. We will need to learn when the garbage is picked up and become familiar with new street names and directions.

But what is essential?

That’s not easy to answer a year and a half away. So I turn that question, as Emily did, to today. In this time of year that schedules get packed and to-do lists get longer, what is essential?

The answer is harder than it sounds. It may vary day to day. Can it even be answered for more than one day at a time?

Today, it’s essential I go to my dental appointment. It’s part of health/self-care. It’s essential that I eat and more beneficial if I eat nutriously.

Our basic human needs are just that: needs. And they are essential.

What is absolutely necessary, extrememly important to me is to know I am loved. To know I have hope. That’s what I desperately need and what I have in Jesus.

 

Most Friday’s I link up with other writers for Five-Minute Friday a 5-minute free write prompt. And most weeks I take more than 5 minutes. Sorry, not sorry.

 

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faith family Five-Minute Friday hope