24 Jul 2014

Five Minute Friday: Finish {Announcing a passing of the baton}

We tend to think that starting is the hardest part of the story.

I think it’s finishing.


Because along the way you will get tired of the thing you started. You will doubt it and resent it and wonder at it and want to change it, edit it, scrap it altogether. Then you will remember that you love it, are changed by it, cherish it and want to see it grow up into something that outgrows you.

So, if you’re brave you press on.

Tired knees and prickly thorns in your socks. Sentences that don’t make sense or stick or run on or need to be cut.

But you press on.

Writer, you.

I can feel the blackjacks that would prick into my shoes on every single walk through the African bush. I can feel the flies buzzing in my ears and the sweat dripping down between my shoulder blades. My breasts.

I can feel the middle.

This pressing on and in and finding shade and shelter and adventure.

I’ve been hosting Five Minute Friday for nearly four years.

I wrote the first Five Minute Friday post on January 13, 2011. You can click here to read it and find out how it started on a whim and I never could have imagined it would still be going.

What a pilgrimage it’s been. What a ride. What a wild meeting of minds and spirits and writers who believe that they were given a message no matter how many people end up reading it.

It’s outgrown my wildest expectations.

Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker

FMF in real life at Allume

FMF with Trina Holden

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume13 View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume13

A weekly flash mob of writers. Who gather over kitchen sinks and in conference rooms. Around virtual coffee tables, on Facebook, between the car pool drop offs and every Thursday night on Twitter.

We write on.

We adventure on.

But I’m past the middle now.

I’m well past. I’m thirsty and my tank has run empty.

And I’ve seen the finish line coming up ahead for months now. Like a great, grey baobab I see it soaring into the sky, nodding down at me. It knows my leg of the journey is done.

It knows.

All wise with seeing what the baboons in its branches miss. That no story ever ends – it simply turns the page until a new sunrise sings its way across the veld.

And new voices take up the story.

Because no story is ever completely yours to begin with. We inherit them. Along with our DNA and our dreams. We inherit the stories that we live. And some of the best ones are passed down to us.

Man I love this place.

This wide open space of voices and the echoes of hundreds of women cheering each other on. A battle cry of encouragement.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume13

You can’t edit that.

You can’t erase it.

You did that. You and me and her and the woman who only writes every other month.

We wrote beauty like fireworks across the dark sky of the Internet.

We wrote a love story.

To the small places of the day – the five minutes that become art in our hands – when we put them on paper.

We did that together.

(Have I got to the part yet where I tell you that I love you?)

Because it’s time for me to finish now. As much as it aches to write that. 

I’m certain of it. I wasn’t yet in February. Or in April. But here in July, I am sure.

It’s my finish and someone else’s beginning. Because stories they just keep going as long as there’s a reader and a writer. As long as there’s five minutes to snatch right there in the middle of your extraordinary ordinary.


I’ve prayed and I’ve thought and I’ve pondered. And I have found the right friend to come and keep hosting a space for your weekly five minutes of writing. And I will become the reader now. And I love that I can sit down in the shade and rest while she leads you all on.

(Did I get to the part where I tell you that she lived my South Africa story for years? Because she did.)

(And what about the part where I share that she’s in Michigan now – my other home away from Africa home. Because she is.)

(Did I tell you the part of the story where I am sad but also I am certain? Because I am.)

Meet my friend Kate Motaung – my word sister, my fellow lover of Five Minute Friday and women and the courage it takes to put their words down on paper – she will be taking the baton now and running with it.

Kate Motaung

I hope you continue to run with her.

I hope you continue to pour your hearts out in five minutes.

To challenge yourself. To turn off the critic in your head. To remember you already are a writer; no one needs to name you what you already are.

Next week will be my last week hosting Five Minute Friday.

(This is the part where my breath catches in my throat).

But I am not afraid.

I am grateful.

And I love me a good, strong finish.

So between now and then – won’t you click here and visit my friend Kate? My word sister. And your new, biggest cheerleader. Because on August 8th she will be the new host of Five Minute Friday and I will be the most excited because God is always making all things new – even small corners of the Internet.




{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Lisa-Jo … thanks for showing us what finishing well looks like. What a legacy you’re passing on. Best of all? I love that you made this choice before you absolutely had no choice.

  2. 2

    Bless you, lady, for being a shining example of bravery to start, perseverance in continuing, and excellence in finishing. That last bit has always been my downfall, but it’s so encouraging to see it done, and done well. I’ve got a big smile from those memories inserted up there and you occupy a big ole place in my heart. Any words I feel brave enough to put out into the world are due in a huge part to you.

    Three cheers for Kate taking up the torch and running the next leg!! :)

  3. 3

    Thank you Lisa-Jo for opening up your heart to us. I have so enjoyed your words, your honesty, your passion. Good luck!

  4. 4

    Thank you, Lisa-Jo, for showing us what brave looks like. For being brave enough to start this #fmfparty community and brave enough to pass the baton. For being humble enough to recognize that this is God’s story and He’s going to continue to write it long after you and I are gone.

    I love this: “No story is ever completely yours to begin with. We inherit them. Along with our DNA and our dreams. We inherit the stories that we live. And some of the best ones are passed down to us.”

    Thank you for including so many of us in your story and for passing that story on to others to continue.

  5. 5
    Rachel L. says:

    Thank you so much for creating Five Minute Friday and giving us a place to meet and connect! I’m so glad you are passing the torch and wish you the best as you close this door. Hopefully you will still be posting; I love to read your blog!

  6. 6

    Oh man. This is a wild thing, the end of you as host to FMF. But I am ever grateful that this is how I found you, how I found my own words too, and how I learned to be braver than I knew I could be. Thank you, my friend. O am just so grateful to know you. You lead and bless with grace and generosity, Lisa-Jo. I can’t wait to see more of what you’re up to in this new season!!

  7. 7

    I’m new to FMF. Really new. Last week was my first post. In fact it was my first blog post period. Still, I have tears running down my face as I read your words. In an instant I was welcomed into the blogging world by these ladies and that has made a huge difference to me. I thank you for hosting FMF and giving me a place to begin. Bloom was perfect first topic for me as I was doing just that. You’ll never know the difference a word and five minutes has made in my walk. Thank you and blessings as you continue your walk on a different path. :)

  8. 8

    Lisa-Jo ~
    Thank you. For everything. And for leaving us in good hands.
    – Andrea

  9. 9

    Lisa-Jo. Kate. Your hearts and ministry bless with the hush of the Spirit’s wings soothing while still ringing hark the herald of Good News and devoted wives and mothers. To countries and callings, loss and learnings, fmf and faith-story fibers shared, my heart celebrates further down the road than my words can journey. Batons and blessings, dear friends, how I cheer for you both!

  10. 10

    Ok, so I cried. A lot. I didn’t know it’d be so emotional but I’m so happy for you to move onto other things and for Kate. She’s a perfect choice and I think even in that, you were caring so well for these writers. I learned to write here, week after week. I found my people. I will always consider it a home of sorts. I love you madly, friend. Thank you for serving well and finishing strong.

  11. 11

    I started blogging May, 2009 – but it took until over a year ago to find my way over here – and I am so glad I did – because your beautiful community, your beautiful story – and what I was able to learn of myself here. Praying that God open your eyes to His marvelous love, more vibrant than we can both imagine – in the next stage of your journey!

  12. 12

    You’ve been a most gracious hostess of the Five Minute Friday. Thank you for leading so faithfully. I will for sure continue on. I can’t ever step away. Love and Hugs!

  13. 13
    Felista says:

    Go: 9:32am
    It’s funny how we sometimes begin a journey without knowing how it will end. Oh sure we may know how we want it to end, but do we ever see how the journey will end? Do we anticipate the highs and lows and everything else in between? I don’t think we ever can, or even if we are supposed to. I believe a lot of our journeys begin in faith, trusting God to lead us through and work all things for our Good and His glory. We never fully anticipate how much God blesses us along the way, or how difficult things may get. We never know how much we’ll be tested or how hard the enemy will work to pull us down. Yet through it all, God is with us. And through it all, there is enough grace and strength for one more day, one more step, one more word to wring out of our tired souls. Best of all, when we get to the finish line and look back, we’ll be amazed at the growth that has happened. The things we thought so precious that no longer hold value. The pruning that was so painful now yielding fruit for generations to come. The hard, back breaking, pride shattering work now giving way to beauty and strength, and God’s glory shining through in our lives in ways we cannot imagine. So even as we come to the finish line, we celebrate the victories won. We learn lessons from the defeats and we mourn the losses. Then we pick ourselves up and soldier on, because as long as we’re alive, there is work to do. It is important to start well, but it is infinitely more important to finish well.
    Stop: 9:40am

    Thank you so much for encouraging me to turn off the critic’s voice in my head and just write from the heart. You’ve shown me what real bravery looks like, and how to trust God when I’m not sure of what He’s doing in me. I’m truly grateful for your blog and I’ve learnt so much about motherhood; the real stuff, not the cotton candy version portrayed in a lot of “how-to” books about motherhood. All the best as you move forward, and may God richly bless you. And please know you’ve made a huge difference in all your readers’ lives.
    With love,

  14. 14

    I. have. no. words. to describe how much you mean to me. I never intended to become a writer, and am not entirely sure I have, but one thing I do know, you and this community gave me the courage to try. The bravery to start. And this has been a soft place to land–a place to be loved and connected and secure. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your faithfulness to show up EVERY Thursday night and create a space–a community where I’ve met some of my deepest friends online. And I can’t be more thrilled for all there is ahead for you, and for Kate too, as she receives the baton and runs full-strength ahead. May this ending be a beautiful beginning for you Miss Lisa-Jo, my sweet, beautiful friend. I love you so. xoxo

  15. 15

    Thank you for creating this.

  16. 16

    Hi, Lisa! Seems as though I just got here, and you’re leaving! But I’m confident in your choice of replacement, and I’m glad that FMF will continue.

  17. 17

    Thank you for the encouragement to write. Even getting five minutes seems to have become a challenge, but I keep being brought back to it in strange ways. Life is so hectic. I feel I never finish anything. I simply get enough of it done to move on to something else before I have to come back to it again. You know like dishes and laundry. How can two people gone as much as we are make such a mess of a house in such a short time home. The floors seem always to need sweeping, never am in finished.
    I believe the same is true about life, it seems to never be finishes, just moving on to another stage. Whether ir is from youth to senior citizen or from birth to death, it is never finished, it just changes to another stage. I hope that I can finish the stage I am in strong. I am beyond being a youthful young woman, not ready to be a senior citizen, and the transition is a bit of a challenge. I think I am finished with one stage, but then who is ever finished being a mother? Who is ever finished being who God made us to be? I will finish this comment with that thought. Thank you and may God bless you as you move on to another stage in life.

  18. 18

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for offering yourself and your corner of the internet up to us:) I’m so grateful. I hope this gives you some much needed breathing room!

  19. 19

    Thanks Lisa Jo,
    This place and time you’ve given for three years has been a vehicle to stretch many of us in ways we never imagined. Thank you. While this feels like a disconnect, that’s what all this is about … Growing. Keep growing and blessing. Thanks for not letting it die, but caring enough to give your baby to another Momma. Hi Kate. See ya Lisa Jo, Godspeed. And we write on.

  20. 20

    So… right now, I can’t even. Just this: I thank God for you and this amazing Gathering of Awesome community that has circled around this corner… that is so overflowing with love and support and prayer and real life and honest scared brave. We will continue to gather around over at Kate’s and we trust her mostly because you trust her with us. I will be praying for whatever your Next is, my friend! And when I get lonely for you… I will simply replay my audio version of Surprised by Motherhood because every now and then we all want to hear a little of that South African accent and feel that smile spread wide across your face! Love you so!

  21. 21

    Lisa-Jo… I don’t know what to say. Five Minute Friday has been such a tremendous testimony of God’s ability to take even our small offerings and multiply them beyond belief. I’ve never given myself the opportunity to participate in Five Minute Friday, but I love watching from the sidelines. Thanks for being faithful to His calls, even when they make no sense. And thanks for modeling such amazing humility and grace in finishing well. I can learn a lot from that. XO.

  22. 22

    Cheering you on, Lisa-Jo. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of how our life rhythms change over time, and how we can invite others to carry what is no longer meant for us. Thank you for blazing the way and for being brave enough to say yes four years ago and maybe even braver to say no now.


  23. 23

    I have not been participating for all that long but I have come to love FMF. The community, but especially your voice of encouragement. I am sure that will continue, but I will miss it coming from you. Thanks for being there when I needed it most!

  24. 24

    Sweet Lisa-Jo. I am deeply grateful for all you’ve done and all you continue to do. Five Minute Friday has been my place. I love it here. You’ve made it so warm and welcoming. Thank you for modeling wisdom and grace and an unselfish heart. Just thank you.

  25. 25

    I have been so blessed by your blog and Five Minute Friday. And, I’ve been blessed already by visiting Kate Motung’s blog. Thank you for hosting FMFParty. I look forward to reading your future work. God bless you and yours.

  26. 26

    Lisa-Jo, thank you for the sweet blessing of this place and for creating safe and loving community here. And thank you for reminding us week after week that our everyday, ordinary stories matter because they are His life through us. Well done, sister. So excited to see where your next adventures take you. xoxo

  27. 27

    Thanks Lisa Jo.
    All the best with the future. God has great plans for you I’m sure x

  28. 28

    Lisa-Jo, I am so going to miss this! I haven’t been so faithful to FMF over the last few months, but it has always been a safe spot for me to land and read and feel like everything is okay, even though I often left your posts in tears. You have such a moving way with words…your heart is in each one and I can feel it.

    I wish you the best in all that you are led to do. I will miss your FMF very much, and hope to pick it back up again with Kate and her site.

    Thank you for everything. Everything… Writing hasn’t been the same since I found you and your FMF!

    May our Heavenly Father continue to bless you as you have all of us.

    Your sis in Christ,
    PS I am loving your book…especially your going into labor story. :)

  29. 29

    you have done so much good.this is more than a prompt.more than a word.way more that five moinutes.it has meant so much to so many people who have joined in.thankyou.it just shows how a little care and time for someone like you to post such a cha;llenge for us all,spreads,grows into a beautiufl thing of support,love,sharing and almost a big family unit.

    will we need to subscribe to your new baton holder to still recieve the emails?

  30. 30

    Thanks, Lisa-Jo. Blessings in abundance to you for creating this place where our “words are safe” and for being an amazing source of information.

  31. 31

    This is my first time joining FMF… I ‘m sad to hear it won’t be on this blog because I’ve come to love it but I’m sure the new host will he lovely. Perhaps because of spotty hotel wifi I’m using right now, I had trouble with the link tool, so here’s my post:
    Thank you Lisa-Jo for your words, wisdom , and encouragement!

  32. 32

    I’ve only recently started with fmf and glad it will continue on. Thank you for courageously starting such a wonderful idea. It takes a brave woman to also know when to finish. Kate will do an amazing job! I love this quote: “Then you will remember that you love it, are changed by it, cherish it and want to see it grow up into something that outgrows you.” I can say that about many areas of my life. Thank you Lisa-Jo!

  33. 33

    Lisa Jo, you are truly and inspiration. I have loved reading you and sharing with you and being a part of this wonderful Friday Event. Believe it or not, I am so going to miss YOU!

  34. 34

    Hi Lisa Jo, I just stopped by to let you know that I nominated you for Most Inspiring Blog award. You can see the post at http://adayinthelifeonthefarm.blogspot.com/2014/07/wow-i-am-honored.html. Thanks for being an inspiration to me.

  35. 35

    For some reason my comment to the post of the blogger before me wouldn’t publish on her site, so I’m writing it here.
    To Tanya Anurag, from Kreative Corner( http://tanyaanurag.blogspot.no/2014/07/his-algorithm-to-finish.html ), number 181:

    You ask some difficult questions, that I am sure we all have asked at one point in our lives. they are difficult, because there really are no answers to them. I understand how it feels like when all you can see is that How can God be just, when He allows such things? I think it is so great of you and brave to finish the post with:

    “BUT He has His own plans to FINISH it- the Master Plans! The plans we cannot question!”

    I think it is only natural for us humans to question things, we seek understanding and knowledge, and I think it is OK to question God sometimes too, as humans we will never be perfect, not even in our faith. But I think it can be unhealthy to ponder these questions and give them too much room.

    I believe that there is great comfort for those mourning, if they seek the Lord, they will be comforted. I believe that even though we can get angry at God sometimes, the only way to heal our wounds is to turn to God. It is OK to tell God your angry at Him sometimes. He loves it when we share our whole lives with Him, so He can participate. And He knows we can be angry, He created us with those feelings. But more than anything He wants us to turn to Him, and not from Him, when those feelings and thoughts and questions comes.

    I also believe that there are certain things God can’t intervene with, because of our free will. Sometimes He can’t intervene, because I am not the only one with free will, and everybody don’t have the same way of giving my free will to Him, as I do. And even though I give my life to Him, and let Him steer me, I still make mistakes, because I fail to listen. When “bad” people decides to do bad things, I believe God is sometimes hindered to intervene, because of the free will He has given us all-because He loves us so much!

    God IS love, and can only act lovingly, He cannot act against Himself. But there is an enemy in the world who does all in his power to convince us and show us that God is not just good, that god is not just loving, that God is not JUST. But God is just. We have sort of placed our self in this situation-when Adam and Eve were disobedient in Eden. We are facing the consequences for that here on earth, but that’s where God’s everlasting love comes in again. That’s why He sent his only son to SAVE us from those consequences. To save us, so we can get an eternity in fellowship with our loving creator.

    I am sure you know this, but I just want to share with you what perspective when I have struggled with questions you are asking. All the bad started when we sought knowledge in Eden. And still we seek knowledge, and that is good, until we reach a certain point. We are promised that if we seek God, we will be given all else in return. All God really wants for us is to have fellowship with us, in Eden, and now. Because He knows that that is what is BEST for us! To have all knowledge is not what is best for us, being with Him is. Believe me, I am the type of girl that don’t like to accept anything until I understand it;-) Knowledge. Which is why faith IS hard. We have to take a leap of faith, not knowing all there is to know. But I promise you, He WILL catch you;-)

    I am sure you didn’t mean for any to try to answer your questions, and I didn’t mean to try. Only God can answer them, and some things we wont get answer to until He comes to take us home. But it is brave of you to acknowledge those feelings and be honest about it! God bless your heart!

    Dear Lord, I pray for those asking questions that won’t get an answer in this live, may you fill their hearts with peace and let them feel your love, fill them up with your love! I pray for all those who have lost someone. Comfort them. Be with them. Let them feel your presence, know that you are there, show them that they can come to you to get all that they need. I pray for those who want this life to end, who is ready to come home with you, may you be with them all the time they are waiting, give them peace in their hearts, and fill them with your love. I pray for all people having doubts about you and those who can’t see the true you because the enemy is telling lies about you. Protect their hearts and thoughts against lies and hurt! In Jesus name, amen!

    -Ava Sophie

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