05 Sep 2013

Five Minute Friday: Red

Take a deep breath. You made it. It’s Friday.

Family photos

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know we barely survived a family photo session last night. Made it through with an equal mix of whispered yelling, threats, bribes and the patient talent of our good friend Mallory MacDonald (Snaps). I tried to bribe her with dinner to forget her suggestion to take photos, but she got us all out the house and into the yard in time to catch the last of the sun.

And told me some stories about how every single beautiful, Christmas card worthy family photo she’s ever taken includes sweating mothers behind the scenes and crazy kids. I’m going to ask her to share some of those stories over here soon so we can let ourselves off the hook and remember that we’re all normal after all.

In the words of my friend the Nester, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. 

Same goes for writing.

And it’s why on Fridays we exhale, silence the voice of the inner critic and all spend five beautiful minutes writing our hearts out on one prompt and sharing our art over here. Glorious in all its imperfection.


“Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” ~E. B. White –>click to tweet this.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in. Here’s how.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

And if you don’t have a blog, feel free to leave your five minutes of writing as a comment. And we’ll love on you there.

Today’s prompt is:



And I sat for two quiet hours in the corner of a Swiss coffee shop and there were women as old as my grandma all tucked into tables and conversation and I just watched them. These women with their stories and laughter and bright red lipstick painted on lips that didn’t whisper lullabies anymore. These women with time on a Thursday morning to meet friends for quiche and coffee.

It was beautiful.

I sat nearby them and let their friendship wash over me. I caught her eye and she smiled and I wanted to tell her, “My daughter is nearly two and a half and she still woke me up twice last night.” And I wanted her to pat my hand, because she looked like the kind of woman who would do that, and tell me that it’s going to be OK because one day I will wake up and have a lunch date on my calendar and kids off at school and I will be meeting friends to tell them how homesick I am for right now.

I forget. I like knee deep in diapers and baby nap schedules still and I forget. Because you can hear it a hundred times and still forget that you’re gonna miss these days. These days layered in so much ordinary it’s hard to breathe sometimes. These days lavish with glory that’s found in the plastic princess that’s made her way into the sink with the rest of the dishes. The glory of panting and puffing boys as they hurl that football across the front yard and chase the sunset like so many puppies.

I swallow a gulp of my 7-Up and this lump that’s lodged in my throat.

Nothing but the wonder of today bottled in the table next door so full of memories that I haven’t even lived yet.



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  1. 1

    I love to sit and watch others “coffee” not in a stalkery kind of way. And the knee deep in diapers goes away so quickly. My youngest is four and while he is so much fun to watch at 4 it hurts a little to know he is my last little one to learn things through. btw family shots for my family were also full of bribes and threats ;)

  2. 2

    Love this “Nothing but the wonder of today bottled in the table next door so full of memories that I haven’t even lived yet.” It is hard to think about it all being over!

  3. 3

    Sweaty mom and crazy kid … I thought that was just my family photos. Makes me feel so much better.

  4. 4

    “These days layered in so much ordinary it’s hard to breathe sometimes.” – I love this phrase. Going to try to see the wonder of today some more.

  5. 5

    “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful” – The Nester got that right. Love to you LJ! Thank you for another great week. I love these random prompts :)

  6. 6

    I’m so against perfectionism. Nester is a wise woman. And you? Your writing always stirs up some goodness in my heart. XO

  7. 7

    Okay….tearing up here. That was BEAUTIFUL. :-) My children are 2, 4, 6, and 7 and this really resonated with my heart. :-) It truly makes me treasure the fact that I’m homeschooling them this year even more. More precious time with them. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. <3 Happy to be linking up again after a long break.

  8. 8

    you are beautiful friend!

  9. 9

    I love that ‘friendship wash over me’……love it! So true! Like a healing oil. Friendship does the soul good. Love you!!

  10. 10

    Love the image of memories not yet lived. That’s a bit of beautiful there. And so good to see these friendships that have lasted lifetimes and are still encouraging each other. And the kid stories … I only have one, and already it seems like the the time just races away. So fast.

  11. 11

    As a redhead, I’ve never worn red lipstick. But two weeks ago, I drove away from my daughter’s college campus for the first time, and it was all I could do not to cry all the way from Texas to California. It’s the strangest concoction of immense joy and pride mixed with grief and loss all rolled into one crazy ball of emotion. Those sleepless nights? Yeah, they got better for a little while. But they never really go away. Moms just start waking up for different reasons — mostly to pray because there comes a time when that’s all there’s left to do.

    • 12

      You soooo don’t look old enough to have a kid in college? For reals?? Also..you speak so much truth and wisdom……please tell me you mentor younger Mums? Please? You have soooo much to offer…..

  12. 13

    Sweet…one can only hope for real enduring friendships…too true about our kids growing up before your very eyes…cherish!

  13. 14

    Love this five-minute write. Pain and joy all mixed into one is the feeling of growth! My littlest ones are nearly 4 years old now, and I have somehow turned into one of the ‘older mums’ at bible study – when did that happen….

  14. 15

    Ah, your posts always make me smile. So refreshing, honest, raw. So ME in the middle of life just trying to gasp for air.

  15. 16

    Love how you are honest about where you’re at and then you also acknowledge the beauty in the midst of the hard work of raising little ones…I bet those grandmothers, if they saw you with your little ones, would think back longingly to those days…maybe (wink)?

  16. 17

    I wasn’t sure how I was going to use this word and I was ready to give up until I thought about my re-newing of my wedding vows DRESS :)

    LOVE it .. thank you for the FMF

  17. 18

    I was stumped for a while…I was thinking, why not blue (my favorite color lol!)? But now, I am loving red because of what it reminded me. Thanks!

  18. 19

    This is my first 5-min Friday post. i don’t have a website (yet) ask i hope I’ve done this correctly. Thank you for encouraging all of us in our writing and sharing your idea of the 5-min Friday.

    Red is the color of the coffee cup i don’t own. It is vibrant and loud in it’s color, like lipstick the models wear on t.v.
    The song in Les Miserable, my favorite one. “Red, the blood of angry men…”. The movie ALWAYS makes me cry at the same part every time.
    Red can be an angry color, it can be an excited color, it is the color of my hair (dyed of course) which got me noticed by my husband of 23 yrs. Has it been that long? Actually almost 24 yrs. i don’t like it that the years, well weeks and days actually have slipped by ever so unnoticeably quickly like a red flower opening and closing with the sun which can only be seen on time-lapsed film. It’s bittersweet. i enjoy and look forward to the memories that lie in wait for me, the ones i know will elicit a smile or laugh from my children as they are reliving a particular moment. But i am saddened by those moments that i can’t seem to remember, or, fine & good though they were, didn’t elicit a space in my brain for future reference almost as if it never happened.

  19. 20

    Lisa-Jo, God frequently uses your words to remind me that that the ordinary is sacred and beautiful, and there is joy to be found in the “dailys.” Thank you.

  20. 21

    Red-the color of my shirt today. Red – the color of our Christmas cards we sent out last year that is posted in the wall in my cubicle. The one where Ellie is giving a neck strained, eyes wide open smile and our son, Ryan, less than 2 months old, is huddled under a thick white blanket. Red – the color of my emergency response hard hat. I where a lot of different REDs in my life. Mom, co-worker, driver, chemist, all of them different, but all of them make up who I am. It’s strange really to think about all that happens under guise of that one color. Normally I would think of the color red as a color of passion – anger, love, what have you… but for today it is the color of a working mom. I am the mom who worries there will be an accident on the way to work, not because of the delay it would cause, but because the officer would eye me disapprovingly as I have to unhook from my breast pump to give a statement. I have to plan my day around my pumping schedule so that my milk supply doesn’t diminish. I have to think about what all is going on that day so that my coworkers (all male) don’t have to worry about me slowing them down. I am the mom who stresses that her 3 year old was up all night vomiting for some unknown reason – is it a virus, something worse? Will her little brother catch it? All of this before 7 am – Red to me is the color of my cape. My coworker wore a shirt today that said ” One lab experiment away from being a supervillian”. I think my would say, One worry away from being a super hero then maybe red would be the color of my cape 

    • 22

      Loved this! I think you’ve already reached super-hero status :) The selfless love of a mother so often goes unsung. Our greatest sacrifices are done done in obscurity. Rarely a pat on the back or word of acknowledgement… and yet we give on. But the eyes of God see. Every time we get out of our bed again each night they can’t sleep. Every time we give up so we can give, again. HE sees it all. And there will be a reward someday, because he promised. And there is always His strength in the moment. Blessings to you, working mamma. You have my admiration!

  21. 23

    As I was reading your post, all I could think of was ‘the seasons in our lives’. Before you know it, you will be in a different season with its own unique challenges. But for now, there are times when you could probably use a pat on the hand, a prayer and a kind word.

    Thank you Lisa Jo for prompting us with one word each Friday. I look forward to each week and how it challenges me to be concise in my thoughts and yet allow myself the freedom to mess up and not be perfect. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Blessings and love,

  22. 24

    Lisa Jo,
    I hope you save this post and show it to those knee-deep-in-diapers babies when they’re older and reading and you’re knee-deep-in something else. Because you will be. And they will love the love you so obviously have for them. Beautifully written. I needed this today. Thank you.
    PS Debbie’s second paragraph – in the comment before mine – Ditto!

  23. 25

    I remember it like it was yesterday. I was struggle to get my then 2 yr old and 6 month old down for a nap so we wouldn’t be late to pick up my 6 yr old from school. My 4 yr old daughter was dancing and laughing in the living room and jumping around. Repeatedly I had told her to be quiet so I could get the babies down because they were having a hard time. While I was upstairs i heard her scream and knowing that she is always overly dramatic, I walked down the staircase and already rolling my eyes that she may have just woken they babies up. She lay crumpled on the floor and when I went to pick her up I felt wetness all over my hands. I looked down to see blood was covering my hands, shirt and my sweet daughters face. The hole just above her eye was so deep I could see her skull bone. In that moment every part of me wanted to take away that pain. The hours following are a blur. A frantic dash outside to see if a neighbor was home, sobbing phone calls to a friend to come watch my kids, my first 911 call and a ride in the ambulance, hoping my son would make it home safely from school, and the frightening moment in the ambulance when she lost consciousness and they couldn’t revive her.
    18 stitches, 2 years, and a 5th baby later and her scar is not all that noticeable, but the imprint it left on my heart is. The reminder of that red blood reminds me of another kind of red; the warm inviting red of love and tenderness that I know needs to always be present in my life, because we don’t know what the next moment brings……

    • 26

      Heart in my throat reading this Allison. No words to convey a mother’s fear of that kind of red. So grateful the story ended with her home and still dancing wild I’m sure two years later :)

  24. 27

    So often we get busy with the “ordinary” that we miss the extraordinary in simple things. Thank you for the beautiful reminder to cherish every moment & every day.

  25. 28

    Wow, I love where you went with this. How red made you think of the life you haven’t lived yet but will one day soon.

  26. 29
    Heather Bea says:

    Red – mad, my son’s favorite color, blood, errors made. Red the apple of my eye, my son and daughter. Anger. My father’s heart before he passed. Firemen the brave firemen.


  27. 30

    I always feel like that. Out of place in a busy room…alone. I too seek comfort and understanding in the faces of others and just a quick whisper of encouragement that it too will get better. Lovely post! :)

  28. 31

    Family Pics. We do ours in fall too. It’s that time again. As soon as the baby gets out of his body cast! Oh my word. That should be a hoot. It can be sooooo stressful. Thanks for the encouraging words. I thought something was wrong with us. :)

    • 32

      Baby in a body cast? Oh girl, you are brave and photos should be a walk in the park compared to anything that’s come before.

  29. 33

    Great post! I am so prone to forget to embrace the season I’m in. Thank you for the beautiful words to remind me.

  30. 34

    Here’s my five for today: http://promisemommy.blogspot.com/2013/09/five-minute-friday-red.html.
    Loved your post, btw.

  31. 35



    Red, my favorite color. My mother said she used to dress me, her little girl, in red because it was the color I looked best in. Red, happy bright alive skipping twirling me, dressed in red. Red brings color to my pale fair complexion. Red was torn out of my life when my youngest daughter was killed. It was black and grey, not me. And now red is back again, in the last two weeks, my older daughter said Yes! to be engaged to be married. New life again even through the red eyes of tears of happiness and longing for younger daughter. But it is such a happy red occasion, happy bright alive skipping twirling me, to be a prospective mother in law, and hopefully grandma!! Can the mother of the bride wear a red dress?!!!


    • 36

      This is beautiful and powerful, Mary Ann. And I say the mother of the bride can wear just about anything she chooses :)

  32. 37

    “The Days Are Long but The Years Are Short” has carried me through many a long day (and night).

  33. 39

    I seat and read, english is not my firts language, so I feel embarassed writting. But as musc as Iread all of you, I feel more comfortable in trying.
    I have you in mind everytime I think I can´t do it one more day insickness (my husband is in bed, my 14 months baby had fever too) and there was me, feeling no to so well, but standed up.
    And when I get to catch that sweet baby sleeping, after the fever is gone I do, an my heart is filled with love, and more joy than ever, an I touch him , palm her back and feel that I can Ican one more day, an a hundred if necesaary.
    Reading you is helping me.
    I am not following teh red thing, but maybe my blushing as I write serves.
    vanesa fromo th far south o south america

    • 40


      Thank you for writing and for letting us know that you are wanting to try writing. I pray that you and your family would be free from the sickness that you have today and that you will continue to try out your English and your writing skills.

      God bless you.

    • 41

      Vanessa – your blushing is the most beautiful red of the day I think – so full of brave. Thank you for writing with us!!

  34. 42

    I wanted to link up today, but today is my sister’s birthday and I want to keep my current post on my blog. I will come back and participate again sometime, but here’s my five-minutes on the topic, Red:

    Red is my favorite color. I am not really sure why that is, but I know it’s been my favorite for a long time. My high school colors were red and white and black (depending on who you were asking) and I seem to always like red foods, like apples, red jelly beans, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes. You get the picture.

    I remember one time I was wanting a red wall in my house. A friend who is good at styling/decorating came over and suggested that we switch the placement of our couch and then paint the new focal wall a brick red color. I loved the idea and I love the wall, even ten years later!

    Red is a fun color to me. It makes me happy to see it and makes me think of good times and things that make me happy. I wouldn’t want my whole bedroom painted red, but I love having a red quilt and red accents in different rooms of my house.

    I’m also particular about the shade of red. It can’t be too “orangey” so I like to say that I like a “blue” red. If you’re a color person, you probably understand what I mean. Otherwise, you can just try to figure it out.

    My friend recently got a red convertible and I think it’s a fun car for a fun friend! I don’t want to own a convertible myself, so I’ll just live vicariously through her.

  35. 43

    Loved the prompt. Red is one of my favorite colors.

  36. 44

    Red. A beautiful color. So many shades. Roses are red, violets are blue. memories flood back as the red sun sinks in the west. Have I used this day wisely. I hear my mom talking about the red sun and the weather. I miss her. I miss her red roses.
    Red dresses and lipstick. Red roofs and barns. Red is everywhere.
    Red is the color of blood, the color of hearts that represent love.
    What more can I say. This day is a gift. I can choose to make it red, or yellow, or black. I can chose the color of love or hate. I can chose, because I am chosen. I am His. Covered by the red blood of Jesus, forgiven, redeemed.

  37. 45

    I need to learn to stop reading your posts at work, because every. single. time. I bawl like a baby at the beauty. You have a gift, and I’m thankful, so thankful, that you share it with us.

  38. 46

    “Nothing but the wonder of today bottled in the table next door so full of memories that I haven’t even lived yet.”

    Such beautiful, true words!! How very quickly these days become memories. Thank you for helping us to really see & feel these moments.



    She wore a red dress and it was sassy and flirty. And daring. And, when he saw it, his eyes lit up.

    She kept the petals of every single rose he gave her. In a vase on her dresser, over the years, the bright red darkened to a deep burgundy, and the satin petals became brittle and crumbly. With age. So, she threw them away.

    Keep the memories; toss the clutter. Right?

    The red dress is no longer in her closet either.

    But, sometimes, she remembers that red dress with the matching red high heels. Every girl need a pair of red high heels, you know.

    Of course, she’d never be able to fit into the dress now. Much less have a place to wear it.

    But still, it was red. And it was fun. And she remembers that world with its “everything’s possible” days of dares and dreams and discoveries.

    And days become years until that world fades away like the last burning red rays of a sunset. In her rearview mirror.

    Sometimes, she looks in the mirror and wonders what happened to that girl in the sassy red dress. So she paints her toenails a shiny, daring, glossy red. ‘Cause even though time and life have changed and shaped her into someone maybe a little different than that girl in the red dress, she knows. She’s still there. And he knows it too.

    She glances across a family room littered with toys and books and all the little things that make up today, and, there, on the table beside the loveseat, she sees the sippy cup with the red lid. Half-filled with orange juice because that’s just about all he drinks.

    This sippy cup with the red lid has lasted through three kids for over 13 years. Tiny little teeth marks decorate the spout.

    13 years of strawberries and sippy cups and construction paper hearts and “ketchup is a vegetable” and Santa Claus and ladybugs…

    Someday, she’ll put away the sippy cup with the red lid for the last time. And she’ll have to look back in her rearview mirror. And wonder, like everyone does, where did it go?

    Her thirteen year old daughter prances across the kitchen as only a thirteen year old girl can, and she asks herself, “When did she get to be so tall?”

    So pretty and confident like she never was… She’s got daring dreams of her own with the world waiting to be discovered.

    And, out of the blue one day, that thirteen year old girl says she wants to put some red streaks in her blonde hair.

    Sassy red. Sippy Cup Red. Keepsake Red.

  39. 47

    Can’t even tell you how much I look forward to your little word each Friday. I LOVE seeing how so many people end up in so many places with one little word. Your post today was beautiful. I found myself so wanting to stop by your table and give you a great big hug. I guess I’ll owe you one.

    • 48

      Would that ever have been fun, eh? I’ve never met a blog reader out and about. I think it would about make my day :)

  40. 49

    Beautiful writing. I thank you for welcoming me to both the FMF community and to the (in)courage community. I watched the spreecast for the Incourage leaders today, I didn’t apply until late when a friend mentioned it to me. You are so precious, and fun. :) Loved seeing your daughter. Looks like you have a great community going here.

  41. 50

    Oh, this brought tears to my eyes as it echoed the prayer I wrote about myself today. Thank you for sharing your beautiful gift with us. I love the way the Lord uses His words through you.

  42. 51

    I am of the age to be able to sit at the table and visit with friends, without the worry of the bottomless laundry basket,bottles to be warmed or school buses to meet. It is so true how we never can capture the reality of how fast this changes until the home becomes still and quiet. THEN COME THE GRANDCHILDREN….A new chapter…Life is good :)

  43. 52

    Great post. Thanks for letting me play along with all the cool kids. I hope my post this week isn’t too simplistic for this crowd. :)

  44. 53

    When they’re little – it’s all about keeping them still for the photos. When they’re teens – it’s all about coaxing a genuine smile that says, “I love my family” – LOL. Those photo shoots should come with cocktails!

    Your post reminded me of time I spent with our prime-time ladies when they met on Tuesday Mornings for coffee – and I met because I needed healthy expectations of what marriage was going to be like when I was 60, 70, 80 – and I ended up with 2 spiritual moms – one who said, “We so need to be needed” – and I so needed them! I bet they would have welcomed you, patted your hand – and given you such sweet encouragement!

  45. 54

    Your story drew me right in. I’m a grandmother now and can identify with the memories and feelings. Thank you

  46. 55

    For the first time in eighteen years I do not have a child home with me…they’re all in school now. This new room of life I’ve entered seems nice enough and sure is a lot quieter. And I know I’ll make it home soon and it’ll be my new normal. But right now I read your words or pass the mammas with the little ones and my heart squeezes in my chest a little at how fast life moves.

  47. 56

    Love seeing the different approaches!! Here is mine. http://bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com/2013/09/red-5-minute-writing.html

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