Five Minute Friday — Loyal

The Five Minute Friday assignment — often a Saturday assignment for yours truly — is to write for five minutes on a prompt word, post it and share with fellow Five Minute friends at Kate’s place on Facebook at  http://www.fiveminutefriday.com. Around 100 of us gather round to encourage and support our fellow Christian writers, writing in a variety of styles and genres. It’s always very interesting to see how a simple word take shape into posts. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes not as much and always entertaining. Be sure to stop in and read the diversity of thought at Kate’s place. And don’t be afraid to join in!

I’ve been sharing snippets taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. They are a testament to the value of the exercise. The 150 blog posts were compiled from the community by Susan Shipe. The stories span a diverse range of experiences, but share a common thread: a love for the bravely written word.

This week, I’ll share some perspective from Rachel, who I hope inspires you to check us out or, better yet, encourage you to try your hand at focused, unscripted writing for just five minutes. And share it on Kate’s website.

“I was new to this whole blogging world when I came across Five Minute Friday from Lisa-Jo Baker’s place [the originator of the exercise]. I knew nothing about link-up’s, how to do it or even much about Twitter. But the FMF community was so welcoming and no question was ever dismissed or laughed at but the ladies [and gents] just jumped in and were quick to give me the ‘how-to’s’ with step by step instructions and wham-bam … there I am … instant friends and connections that link across the miles. I look forward each week to connect back with the girls [and guys] and read what they have to say. They’re my Five Minute gang and I look forward to catching up with them every Friday!”

The word this week is LOYALTY. The clock is starting, so let’s GO …

As I write this, Angelina, my shih tzu mix, is comfortably (?) lying across my lap — no, not curled up in a ball, but literally stretched out with her head resting on my knee. The laptop is nested on her back and she is completely unfazed.

That, my friend, is loyalty in action.

Generally when I’m in my recliner, she is right there with me … or at least until my restless legs start moving too much. While she sleeps in bed with me, it is generally curled at my feet. Often, she wakes me in the morning not with slobbering kisses but a methodical tail thump well within ear shot.

I told someone just this morning, I think dogs are angels sent to comfort, protect and be a loyal companion.

Angelina isn’t the first. There have been a long line of dogs in the household over the years — Tess, Tag, Mandy Harrigan and even Jet going back to my younger days to name just a few. They all had that same trait … STOP

in common. Once we established boundaries — I’m still not sure who the master actually is — they have been there protecting us day and night from dangers seen and unseen and keeping us company with an unconditional love. When I fell in snowbank last winter, before I hit the soft ground, Angelina was there licking my face and making sure I was okay. Even mild-mannered Mandy turned into a pit bull (she was an English springer) when a well-known friend entered our home to pick up some baby supplies while mom and dad were not at home.

We have another loyal Friend, too. He sits with us, eats with us, sleeps with us and protects us. His name is Jesus. Angelina — and the others — are His emissaries.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Take your child out for date night at least once a month. Let them pick where.

Advertisements
Posted in appreciation, communication, companionship, dog, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, Jesus, Life, love, relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Why?

There’s an inscription in the book George Bailey finds in the film, It’s a Wonderful Life. “Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”

Let’s face it, sometimes we all feel we failed. Our emotions go underwater and we just can’t surface. The more we try, often the deeper we go.

That’s when you need the reminder from Clarence. And it was ever so present earlier this week when I deliberately chose to downplay my birthday and wallow in my own self. What have I accomplished in seventy plus one years?

My family and friends would have none of that. Just like George Bailey, they surrounded me with warmth and love on every platform I’m on. From pre-dawn to even a couple days later, someone sent me well wishes. They lifted me up from sea to shining sea and in between.

Clarence also pointed out — something we often forget — “Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” As I scanned my blog followers, Facebook followers, Twitter followers and e-mail list I realized I have influenced so many other lives … hopefully for good. I try to shine the light daily, not my light, but The Light. I do it in subtle ways.

My communication routine consists of taking a “good morning” photo to share with my kids;  spending time with the Lord; reading Ron Hutchcraft’s Word With You {Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat on weekends} and sharing a nugget with family and friends; wishing my Facebook friends a “Good Morning” and sharing a personal inspirational thought, a visual thought for the day, daily celebration reminders and an archived nugget  on Facebook. On Mondays, I take a moment to pray individually for my family and friends with an e-mail “words for the week” message and try to get the Facebook week off with a smile. On Wednesdays I share some midweek mirth with family and friends. On Fridays {okay, usually Saturday} I sit down for some serious Five Minute Friday free range thoughts.

That’s my routine … a couple of hours a day committed to sharing my life with those most important to me — from God to family to friends to sometimes anonymous Facebook followers. And if truth be known, if any of those steps are skipped, when I lay my head on the pillow at night, I don’t feel like it was a successful day.

It’s designed not to put me at the center, but to let others know I’m thinking about and praying for them. I don’t get a lot of daily feedback — and that’s okay. I received a ton of feedback Monday — when I needed it most.

Truly, “no man is a failure who has friends.”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Watch the sun rise.

 

Posted in appreciation, attitude, Birthdays, blessings, communication, encouragement, Faith, family, Friends, gift, giving, God, Life, love, message, relationships, social media, support | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Minute Friday — Loved

It’s time for Five Minute Friday, the weekly timed keyword-themed writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Her words — and those of the others who congregate around the virtual table to share — are on Facebook at  http://www.fiveminutefriday.com. I encourage you to read them … and participate in the often challenging exercise.

I’ve been sharing snippets taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. They are a testament to the value of the exercise. This week, I’ll share some perspective from Leah, who I hope inspires you to check us out or, better yet, encourages you to try your hand at focused, unscripted writing for just five minutes. And share it on the Five Minute Friday website.

“I was very surprised to discover I have written 73 FMF posts, over the course of three and a half years. I wrote this past October of 2015 when I participated in my first 31 days of writing challenge, by FMF host Kate Motaung that I had chose to be part of this grooup “because it is simple, beautiful, holy.” 73 posts, and forty months of doing this honest flash mob writing thing, and I see my continual showing up has had the natural effect of making me a better writer. More than that, this continual showing up has made me a better Kingdom of God seeker. I kept coming back because The Holy Spirit kept beckoning me. A major turning point in my own FMF experience started about a year ago when I obeyed His prompting to not only comment and encourage several of my five minute Friday neighbors but pray for them as well. Pray specific. Time and time again, those I happened to be next to would post something so significant for a season I myself was in. The bond of the Spirit was there and I was overjoyed that I could be part of a fellow believer’s life for a  day. I post sporadically now. When I do, The Holy Spirit always meets me, and leads me to pray for others to make a real spiritual impact on them in a way that I will never know or see, but matters incredibly. It also lets me relax with my own writing. I do not have to gauge if it is “successful.” I trust my words will find their way to at least one fellow traveler and God can do the rest. It is truth that makes Five Minute Friday a Holy, Good, thing to me.”

The word this week is LOVED. The clock is started, so let’s GO …

I was sitting on the bench this morning just watching the sun rise and listening to the sounds of the river. A bird landed in the bush just feet away and started munching on berries. A gentle breeze was a refreshing respite from the humidity. The flow of the river made soothing sounds, with ducks and loons and even an occasional frog making an appearance.

It was soothing after a week where it was easy to question the existence of God. And it was the exclamation point highlighting God is alive and well — not only in nature but in my life and your life as well.

My readings today focused on letting go … making your petitions to the Lord and sitting back as He unlocks the doors in His time for His purpose. That is always a challenge in our time-shackled lives.

My relationships with family and friends reminded me how much I am loved, even though those times of affirmation are few and far between.

And of course, the reflections over the river reminded how much I am loved by God. I don’t have to know the answers. I don’t have to punch a clock … STOP

I don’t have to wonder if and when.

He placed me at the river’s bank this morning to remind me of His love — using nature as His chalkboard. I can truly say, I understood — no, maybe that’s not the right word — appreciate the lesson plan. God has loved me. God does love me. God will always love me.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Relax and recharge to be the best you there is.

Posted in appreciation, attitude, birds, blessings, communication, encouragement, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, God, Life, love, nature, prayer, reflect, relationships, restore, trust | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Let’s Party

I have an appointment in upstate New York Sept. 5. It’s a long way to go for an appointment, but it is necessary, so west I go.

But I thought I could extend it a bit by scheduling a few book visits. I have nothing planned, but if any of my friends or follower from around the Seneca County area are up for it, I would be willing to stop by your place or book club or group  for a visit. If you invite a few of your friends for coffee or iced tea, we could gather to just meet and greet, catch up, talk about Heaven Shining Through and the publishing process, maybe sign and/or sell a few books and bring you up to date with projects planned. Yes, there are projects planned — and your select group will find out about it first! At worse, it would be a great time just to visit — which has become the best part of publishing. I have met so many new and old friends and have had so many great conversations.

If there is interest, I could visit with you just about any time between Sept. 2-8. Just get a hold of me by responding here or by e-mail (revblt@rochester.rr.com) or by Facebook Messenger. I want to stress this is an informal gathering — nothing fancy, just some old fashioned conversation.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Your name is all you have so make it stand for something righteous.

Posted in book, communication, entertainment, Faith, family, Friends, invitation, Life, love, relationships, Seneca County, visit, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Minute Friday — Woman

Happy Saturday! Time for my Five Minute Friday contribution. Check out the amazing five minutes takes at Kate’s place on Facebook at  http://www.fiveminutefriday.com by our special community of writers.

I’ve been sharing snippets taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. They are a testament to the value of the exercise. This week, I’ll share some perspective from Jolene who I hope inspires you to check us out or, better yet, try your hand at focused, unscripted writing for just five minutes. And share it on Kate’s website.

“I stumbled across Five Minute Friday several years ago, when I noticed that several blogs that I read participated in the weekly link up. I checked it out one Friday night, and thought it was a fun idea and a great writing exercise. I didn’t realize then, that it is truly a community. The fellow FMF writers became my friends as we gathered each week and commented on each other’s posts. I have several friends that I would never have met if it had not been for Five Minute Friday. I am blessed to be part of this wonderfu community of writers.”

The prompt is WOMAN, yes Woman. This should be interesting.The timer has been set, so I guess it’s time to GO…

I am Woman, hear me roar!

Wait a minute. Let’s think this through. I am not a woman. But I do have some thoughts from a male perspective.

I always told my wife and daughters they should roar! They are strong, passionate and, most of all, compassionate. And all too often they never saw their power.

In my generation, woman were somehow thought of as being inferior or subservient. I, ashamedly, also took that sexist attitude growing up … but my eyes were opened. Women are not subservient. They are strong. They are helpmates and friends. They have needs — basically the same as men — but approached differently.

As I’ve matured, I noticed how much I relied (rely) on the women in my life. They lift me up, more than I can ever lift them up.

I always tried to point out their worth. Women are not “just” … STOP

… women. They are wives, mothers, friends, part doctor/nurse, confidants, chauffeurs, homemakers, domestic engineers, career women balancing home and work and generally faith-filled, even if they don’t know or acknowledge it. They can be the greatest prayer warriors in the world.

So, here’s to women! Embrace your gender! You can do anything you set your mind to! Believe in yourself! ROAR! Or as Helen Reddy sang,

I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Watch your thoughts because they will become your character.

 

 

Posted in appreciation, attitude, balance, children, communication, companionship, courage, embrace, encouragement, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, Karen, Life, love, relationships, self worth, songs, strength, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Words for the Week

As I usually do, here are my words from behind the pulpit, delivered at Dover-Foxcrost (ME) United Methodist Church Sunday.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I  may have mentioned, I have a weekly Monday ritual. I spend time praying for my family, friends and faith partners and share with them some nugget of encouragement for the week. Sometimes it’s a sentence. Sometimes a paragraph. Sometimes a story.  I’ve discovered each one had a special meaning to some one at some time. The message just resonated with them at just the time they needed it most. I never know who until after the fact.

And sometimes, that special meaning is meant for me.

A few weeks ago was an example. I was feeling somewhat deflated, unappreciated and overwhelmed. I was tempted to forego my weekly ritual and just broadcast a pithy one liner. But my sense of {spiritual} duty wouldn’t allow that.

I came across a story, one that has been around for awhile. I’m pretty sure I had heard it before, yet I had never heard it. It was the preamble to my prayers. And as I look back, it relates to today’ Gospel text … in a sort of a roundabout way.

It went like this …

A woman baked bread for members of her family and an extra one for any hungry passerby. She kept the extra bread on the window sill, for whosoever would take it away.

And, every day, as the woman placed the bread on the window sill, she offered a prayer for her son who had gone to a distant place to seek his fortune. For many months, she had no news of him. She prayed for his safe return.

Every day, a hunchback came and took away the bread. Instead of expressing gratitude, he muttered the following words as he went his way: “The evil you do remains with you; the good you do comes back to you!”

This went on, day after day. Every day, the hunchback came, picked up the bread and uttered the words: “The evil you do remains with you; the good you do comes back to you!”

The woman started to feel irritated. “Not a word of gratitude,” she said to herself. “Everyday this hunchback utters this jingle! What does he mean?”

One day, out of desperation, she decided to do away with the hunchback. “I shall get rid of this hunchback,” she said. And what did she do? She added poison to the bread she prepared for him! As she was about to place it on the window sill, her hands trembled. “What is this I am doing?” she said.

Immediately, she threw the bread into the fire, prepared another one and kept it on the window sill.

As usual, the hunchback came, picked up the bread and muttered the words: “The evil you do remains with you; the good you do comes back to you!” The hunchback proceeded on his way, blissfully unaware of the war raging in the mind of the woman.

That evening, there was a knock on the door. As she opened it, she was surprised to find her son standing in the doorway. He had grown thin and lean. His garments were tattered and torn. He was hungry and weak. As he saw his mother, he said, “Mom, it’s a miracle I’m here. While I was but a mile away, I was so hungry I collapsed. I would have died, but just then an old hunchback passed by. I begged of him for a small part of his food, and he was kind enough to give me a whole bread. As he gave it to me, he said, ‘This is what I eat everyday; today, I shall give it to you, for your need is greater than mine!’”

As the mother heard those words, her face turned pale. She leaned against the door for support. She remembered the poisoned bread she had made that morning. Had she not burnt it in the fire, it would have been eaten by her own son, and he would have lost his life!

It was then she realized the significance of the words: “The evil you do remains with you; the good you do comes back to you!”

 

Okay, so how do we connect the story with today’s Word (John 6:24-35)? We have a couple of common themes — bread, a feeling of being not appreciated, a message. So, let’s give it a try.

We rely so much on bread for our daily sustenance. Give us this day, our daily bread…

To bring the parable and today’s lesson into focus, let’s set the scene. John tells us the crowd of 5,000 had just been fed and Jesus attempted to get away from the crowd. He crossed the sea from Capernaum, but the crowd went looking for Him.

I can see Jesus extending His hands and saying, “What? Wait a minute? Didn’t I do enough for you? Can’t I get some rest?” Or, as He started to feel irritated, mutter, “Not a word of gratitude!”

Instead, what does Jesus do? As He does so often in the Johannine gospel, He redirects the questions from the crowd, I suppose He is hoping against hope the crowd will understand His message. Clearly, they don’t. He tells them they were looking for Him “not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” and then admonishes them, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life…”

They have no idea what Jesus is talking about. They were responding to full bellies … and still empty minds. They – we – think about their/our next meal, not eternity. The bread which endures is this relationship which has been made possible by the incarnation of the Son, in fact, the Son Himself, whom the Father gave for the world.

But they ask, “What sign are You going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe You? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

Again, I can see Jesus shaking His head. He wants to yell out, “I’M THE WORK! I’M THE SIGN!”

Of course, Jesus patiently tries to point out the discrepancies and plant the seeds in His followers. They are focused on what they could or should or must do, rather than on what God is doing right in front of them.

How often do we, as preachers and congregations and denominations, forget the gospel is the declaration of what God does, and instead act as though all of reality centers on, and is determined by, what we are doing? The “work of God” is belief, which is made possible only by giving the Son. Faith is always the gracious and surprising accomplishment of God.

Jesus tries to turn the point of that story to the activity of the Father here and now. The true giver in the desert was not Moses, He says, but the Father; the true bread was not the manna, but is the bread of God in the person of Jesus. To have properly heard Jesus’ words should have prompted faith, not a fixation on bread.

So He tries one last time. “I am the bread of life” … bread beyond bread, a gift from God which not only came to the world through Jesus, but is in fact Jesus Himself.

As Craig Satterlee commented, Jesus is the bread that fulfills all our hunger and thirst. Jesus frees us to follow Him not to achieve self-satisfaction, not to get anything that is in it for us, not even to attain or maintain peace of mind. Jesus frees us to embrace God’s redeeming will to restore the cosmos to what God created and humanity to what God intends. Such faith does not mean separating the spiritual out of the social. It means putting God rather than us at the center of both. When we do, we can and will expect more.

There is a lesson here for us. We, too, suffer from spiritual myopia. Wonderful things happen in our presence every day, but we fail to see them or simply take them for granted.

Martin Luther observed, “God’s wonderful works, which happen daily, are lightly esteemed, not because they are of no import but because they happen so constantly and without interruption. Man is used to the miracle that God rules the world and upholds all creation, and because things daily run their appointed course, it seems insignificant, and no man thinks it worth his while to meditate upon it and to regard it as God’s wonderful work, and yet it is a greater wonder than that Christ fed five thousand men with five loaves and made wine from water.”

God feeds billions daily, but we take notice only when we miss a meal — or when the feeding takes place under dramatic circumstances. We, too, say, “Give us a sign, Jesus. Do something spectacular, so we can believe in You.”

We, too, have a choice when it comes to Jesus. We can reject Him. We can go to Him with an open mind and allow Him to fill it. We can accept Him strictly on faith.

C.S. Lewis, who was initially an atheist, then a theist and ultimately one of the greatest Christian apologists of the 20th century, went through all three stages and came to the following conclusion in The Case for Christianity. “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He’d either be a lunatic — on the level with a man who says he’s a poached egg — or else he’d be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”

We, too, have to decide who Jesus is … a lunatic … the devil of hell … Son of God. But we also have to look at own state of heart and recognize our motivation. Are we looking at Jesus for what He does for us or for how He changes us? Is He a means to the filling our “stomachs” or to fill our lives with the very presence of God? Too often we fail to have eyes to see and ears to hear the God who is present in our lives, through either the sacraments or the events of everyday life. Believing is doing.

Many Christians, as John Wesley said, have just enough religion to be miserable. They are like this crowd, missing God’s gift of life in His Son. They are not experiencing abiding life. We, like this crowd, need God’s help to understand who Jesus is and what He offers us. He makes this promise not privately to an individual, but openly to a crowd. What is required of us is we come to Him and believe. Our part is relying on God’s grace.

We all have a role in building up God’s kingdom. Some are called as apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, some writers … and some bakers and humanitarians.

“The evil you do remains with you; the good you do comes back to you!”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Paying it forward is what keeps the world turning. Do your part.

 

 

 

 

Posted in attitude, communication, decisions, Dover-Foxcroft UMC, ecumenism, encouragement, Faith, family, Friends, giving, God, grace, Jesus, Life, love, message, motivation, relationships, sermon, stories, Thoughts, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Minute Friday — Anniversary

Happy Five Minute Friday time. Yeah, I know. It’s Sunday. In my defense, I was on the road Friday and at Maine Author Day in Guilford Saturday. All of a sudden, it was Sunday.

The assignment this week was, quite frankly, challenging. The FMF prompt was ANNIVERSARY which conjured up some bittersweet thoughts. I chose to check in with some friends rather than succumb to different directions my mind might wander. But I ran out of excuses, so here I am trying to herd my thoughts into a coherent five minutes. It was quite a challenge.

I wonder if my fellow writers at Kate’s place on Facebook at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com had the same challenge. After this post, I’ll take a peek at the offerings from my writing soulmates. It’s always exciting — and often informative — to see how my fellow FMF friends develop their thoughts in a variety of different genres.

I ’ve been sharing snippets taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. are a testament to the value of the exercise. This week, I’ll share some perspective from Debbie G. who I hope inspires you to check us out.

“FMF has helped me overcome my publish-button-phobia. Publish-button-phobia is the fear of hitting the publish button. It usually affects type A personalities like this gal right here. I believe FMF has helped me with this because of its format pf freestyle writing for five minutes with no or little editing. FMF has helped me be more creative as a simply ‘speak’ from my heart and enjoy the writing process. At my little place in bloggy land I call it — Five Minute Friday Fun. That’s with the emphasis on FUN.”

If you get a chance, stop by Kate’s place. Or, better yet, try your hand at focused, unscripted writing for just five minutes. And share it on Kate’s website.

But for now, the timer is set for five minutes, so let’s see what we’ll come up with. GO …

Anniversary. A bittersweet word.

At the end of the month — the 31st — I would have been celebrating my 50th anniversary with my wife. But the gold was tarnished 10 years ago when, shortly — less than a month — after our ruby 40th, Karen died. So we only physically made it to 40.

That doesn’t mean I still don’t celebrate our anniversary. It’s just quieter … just me and a bronze urn. I usually crack open a bottle of wine and just celebrate in silent reflection of what we had. As I said — it’s bittersweet.

We had so many plans for our retirement. Maine was Karen’s idea. Having freedom from work details and the ability to visit the kids and grandkids in five states was on the horizon. Only it was our plan … not the Divine plan.

I miss her terribly, still, 10 years later. I’ve moved on and found a new … STOP

home here in Maine, although even that took me on a seven-year journey to the far corners of the state before settling in on the banks of the Piscataquis River in downtown Dover-Foxcroft. In her memory, I planned vacations with the grandchildren {although we are skipping this year}. I’ve made it a point to visit the kids and grandkids as often as I could {never enough}. I dedicated my book to my soulmate, because she never told me I couldn’t do whatever I set my sights on. She knew better — better than myself when doubts crept in.

We packed a lot of adventure in 40 years and a lot of “stuff” in nine moves to five different states. We laughed. We cried. We held on to each other.

Anniversary. A bittersweet word.

But memories … they’re priceless and with me always.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Don’t be full of excuses. Be full of answers.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments