So I woke up this morning and wondered, What should the Five Minute Friday word be for this week?

AndrewThen I opened my email inbox and found a message from Andrew Budek-Schmeisser, long-time faithful member of the FMF community.

If you own the Five Minute Friday book, you’ll know that Susan Shipe dedicated the book to Andrew — a daily fighter and warrior against the ugly, horrific ravages of terminal cancer.

This morning Andrew shared a post he wrote in advance for this week’s Five Minute Friday linkup. He didn’t know the word yet — I hadn’t even chosen it yet — but his post was titled, Count it all joy.

I decided then and there that I had to share it with you here.

So — because of Andrew and the words he shared — this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:





And yes, I know we already wrote on JOY in October 2015 and Lisa-Jo used it a couple of times when she served as FMF host … and yes, I know the word three weeks ago was ENJOY … and yes, I know I’ve been sharing a lot of guest posts lately — but you know what? Sometimes we need to bend the man-made “rules” and follow where the Spirit leads, amen?

Week after week, Andrew is teaching us how to die well.

The following words, written by a man writhing on his death bed, are no exception. Let’s lean in, listen close, and learn from him, shall we?

Without further ado, here’s Andrew:


For a long time, I was really irritated with James (as in the New Testament Epistle) and his ‘count it all joy’ to be found in James 1:2.

Trade places with me, dude, and we’ll see how long you talk about joy.

But he was right, and I was quite wrong. It’s not that pain and the small and daily humiliations of illness are in anyway pleasurable. Only a madman or a masochist could say that. I’m not the latter. (Jury’s still out on the first.)

And neither is the joy based in the promise of Heaven. Certainly that’s an attractive future, but it can seem a long way away when you pass the night screaming in pain. That was last night, as I write this; I do hope tonight will be better.

So where’s the beef? Oh, sorry. Where’s the joy?

Simple. The joy is in the process of showing up.

Joy is in the intention of joy; it’s found in the resolve, however shaky, that overcomes the pain to say that life’s still good and still worth living.

Joy is found in the decision to reach out and offer encouragement to someone who’s hurting because I am hurting, too.

Joy is found in living the example of hope when all hope’s rationally gone, even if no one is looking.

Joy is found in the realization that there is purpose to my pain and that I am the vital link to fulfill that purpose. Quite a responsibility!

Joy is found in the moments I would have shrugged off in years past but that I now see as treasures beyond price. God did not intend our moments to be wasted.

And most important…well,to me…joy is found in what I can give, because I now understand that the gift of pain is the vital other side of compassion.



May the joy of the Lord be your strength, brother.


Related posts:

On Dying with Dignity

For Your Joy

Related products:

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Related books:


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59 thoughts on “five minute friday :: joy {a guest post}

  1. Andrew, you brought tears to my eyes. Your post here, so profound. I love how you put feet to the concept of JOY. And you live it in the most amazing way. Thank you.

    I’m continuing to pray for you, Barb, and the dogs.

    • Jeanne, thank you so much. But know this, that whatever strength I find comes very largely from this community, and the Books and Such community. In these places I have found wisdom and hope that I thought were beyond my reach, and I am forever both grateful and humbled by the love that been extended. Truly, this is Jesus’ heart made manifest.

  2. […] This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link-up. FMF is where bloggers gather together to form a writing flash mob where we all write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes with no editing! Sound like fun? You can learn more by clicking on the button below and/or join this week’s link-up here! […]

  3. Andrew, I love that you find joy in knowing that there is a purpose for your pain. There truly is, and the encouragement your strength gives to others is a part of that. I also keep mulling over that last sentence… the gift of pain is the vital other side of compassion. That just says it so well. Thank you for sharing this. Praying for you.

  4. Andrew, I’m not going to say too much here because you know how I feel and what I think of you and Barb. You are my heroes and I love you. Remember the four of us have a date to meet IRL in four years and you promised you’d make it. Count it all JOY – I’m not that crazy over the scripture either! Yes, Lord. Bowing low.

  5. Kate, I’ll link up Sonday morning. My weekly Quietude, which is Advent-based this month is on JOY. Thank you for featuring our dear friend and hero to many, Andrew, in this sacred space. xoxo

  6. Kate, you can make and break the rules because you are the boss here! And I am so glad you did. What a powerful five minutes of writing about JOY.

    “And most important…well,to me…joy is found in what I can give, because I now understand that the gift of pain is the vital other side of compassion.”

    That last line is what I am most struck by and I feel like it’s an answer to what has been swirling around in my mind for a long time as we live in a culture that seeks to avoid — or medicate such as with addiction — pain in so many ways. We do not want to feel pain. Period. And yet there’s a whole group of people that God has gifted with the counterpart of that — serving those in pain with love, care, and compassion — who are denied a powerful way to be used by God.

    Does that mean that I wish the pain of terminal cancer on anyone? Absolutely not! My eyes were filled with tears at the thought of what you are enduring. But as you are choosing to walk in JOY, I’m going to bet there’s people surrounding you exercising their gift of compassionate care.

    So thank you for sharing, Andrew. You will be in my prayers!


    • Tammy, thank you so much for this – you bring up a very important point, the one of over-medication. I’ve been down that road, and it was a nightmare, both physically and psychologically. There are things more frightening than pain.

      I so appreciate your loving, gracious thoughts, and your prayers!

  7. Tearful this morning as I read your guest-post for this week’s FMF post! {I’ll write mine later…because, JOY is/was my word for the year – the word that I haven’t written on since October…} But, your post will fill my heart with JOY because we live with joy in our hearts; because we know there is much to be joyful about in this life; because “Joy is found in the moments I would have shrugged off in years past but that I now see as treasures beyond price. God did not intend our moments to be wasted.” Thanks for your posts, this one included, I CAN see the many treasures that I have and do not wish to waste them!!

    YOU are an inspiration to us all!! YOU are a witness to what we can do with our words; our writing…because you never know who you will touch with those words! THANK YOU, Andrew…always and still praying; and {{HUGS}} to you and Barb!!

    • Barbara, I appreciate your words so very much! But truly, whatever inspiration I can give, I have learned in this community. I’m a mirror, reflecting the grace found in the words of all of you, my mentors in faith.

      Prayers are much appreciated, and hugs back!

  8. LOVE this, Andrew. Yes, yes, yes. THAT is joy. Amen. I don’t know the suffering of dying and physical pain, but I know it from the caregiver’s perspective and from being attacked for my faith on a regular basis from those closest to me who I see God drawing closer and closer (hence more attacks).

    Whenever I step out in faith, the enemy attacks and tries to cut me into despair…but that’s when I pray and find God leading me to stand with and pray for someone else in their battle just as you have…and when JOY becomes my strength as I am filled with happiness as I watch Him strengthen my friends through the words He gives me…which is why I’ve stepped back from blogging completely…to step into the fear and pain God is calling me into to bless and grow me (sounds counter-intuitive huh: that’s the Gospel lol) and write privately for the audience He calls me to ?.

    So…no more FMF writing for me…but I will be visiting here occasionally to be challenged, grown and inspired. Thank you for your beautiful post that has affirmed me in the decision I took a few days ago to stop blogging.

    • Anna, may God grant you the strength you need in this critical time in your journey. May you find joy in pain. May God be the lifter up of your head. May your test and trials bring a powerful testimony and bring compassion and joy to those in your sphere of influence.

    • Anna, you are, have been, and shall be in my prayers. May His Mighty Arm strengthen yours, and may His Mercy give you the words to disarm and change the hearts of thoe who would attack you for your faith.

      You’ve always been an inspiration to me, and I’ve appreciated your writings, and drawn both strength and faith from them.

      God bless you, my friend, and Godspeed on the journey.

  9. Andrew you grabbed me with this thought”the gift of pain is the vital other side of compassion” You are right! How can we share compassion until we have experienced pain. I am the most compassionate and I pursue things much more passionately when I have walked that rough road myself. I appreciate you for speaking to us out of your pain and through you pain. What a blessing. What compassion. Bless you my brother and may the God of peace comfort you in your nights of pain.

    • Calvonia, thank you so much for this! It was a hard lesson and a surprising one for me, that the purest empathy grows from the most fell of soils…but it’s really the dichotomy of the Cross writ small…humiliation as the necessary ingredient for us to see Glory.

      God is a comfort through the nights and days. Don’t know what I’d do without Him! 🙂

    • Barbie, this community has been a blessing and my most vital lifeline. I have made it through weeks – weeks when giving up and dying was an option – because I did not want there to be a blank spot in the linkup lineup, where Sylvia The Service Dog’s picture usually lives. I’d been told that there are those who’ll dread the day I go missing…and as long as I draw breath, it won’t happen.

      So, yeah…FMF keeps me alive. The blessings I can give are returned to me a hundred or thousandfold, each week.

  10. This point really stood out to me, Andrew!

    “Joy is found in the moments I would have shrugged off in years past but that I now see as treasures beyond price. God did not intend our moments to be wasted.”

    How many moments do I shrug off because they are routine, or not that exciting. I am really going to try to practice looking for joy in the mundane. If I only look for joy in the extraordinary, than I will really be missing out. Thank you for the reminder, I am praying for you and Barb!

    • Jolene, thanks so much! learning to look for joy in the mundane was a tough discipline, because I kept tripping over my aspirations…until I realized that my aspirations, my dreams…the BEST parts of them were also made up of mundane moments.

      I’d have appreciated the mountaintops, but more of the dream would have been composed of the narrative of longs days in valleys, sunlit and shadowed.

      Thanks you so much for the prayers; we truly appreciate them.

  11. Andrew, you must have been listening in on my conversations yesterday? Compassion is everything: for ourselves and for others. Holding the pain and the joy in the same palm. I am so thankful for your vulnerable journey. It lights the way for mine. You give hope where others cannot tred.

  12. This here is powerful > “Joy is in the intention of joy; it’s found in the resolve, however shaky, that overcomes the pain to say that life’s still good and still worth living.” So grateful that you continue to exhibit joy and show up, Andrew. You are teaching us all how to live, and die, well. Praying for you and Barb this afternoon.

  13. You are a shining example Andrew. I hope you have a sweet, painfree night tonight. May the Lord wrap his arms around you and hold you in the perfect position of comfort. ❤️

  14. I don’t know how the rest of us can write anything to compare after that! You are an amazing example of truly living out joy in the midst of most difficult circumstances. Thank-you for sharing out of your pain. May the God of peace continue to give you the strength to truly live.

  15. “The joy is in the process of showing up.” I never thought of it that way, Andrew, but it’s true. We can withdraw into ourselves and never find joy, but it’s the showing up over and over that helps us find it. “Joy is in the intention of joy; it’s found in the resolve, however shaky, that overcomes the pain to say that life’s still good and still worth living.” Andrew, you certainly are an example of this. Your words always encourage and inspire me. I pray that God will be near to you and give comfort and strength. I’m glad you’re a part of this #FMF community! May God bless you and Barbara and give you peace and joy even in the midst of the pain and trials. You are a blessing to us all.

    • Gayl, thank you so much! Your words are an honour for me. It’s such a privilege to be part of this community, a family that has given me such strength, faith, and hope!

      God is truly near; Barbara was in a minor car accident that, but for God’s grace and her quick reflexes, could have been much, much worse. She was run off the freeway, and took her Chevy Cobalt four-wheeling (and, briefly, flying). She wasn’t hurt, and damage was minimal (and neatly covered by the Christmas bonus she’d just received!).

      • Wow! I’m so glad she wasn’t hurt! I’m sure she would have rather spent her bonus on something else, but I know she is thankful to have that available for the repairs. Praise God that she was safe and it wasn’t any worse.

        The privilege is ours to have you a part of this wonderful community!

        • Thanks, Gayl. God works in His way, and it is what it was meant to be.

          A few months ago my application for Social Security disability was denied – again! – and it was awfully frustrating.

          However…had it gone through, the additional income would have allowed Barb to get the SUV she would prefer to the Cobalt she drives, and in that vehicle, the consequences would have been far worse. An SUV would have rolled.

          God does indeed work to the good of those who love Him!

  16. Hello.. I couldn’t find where to write about JOY… I simply have 3 thoughts… First, Joy doesn”t depend on circumstances! It is there all the time when one live in communion with the LORD.. Secondly, .. JOY is knowing you are WELCOME in the presence of the LORD HIMSELF! Finally, a simple set of priorities can define JOY… Jesus, Others, You! God bless you all! Sheila Dean of Bremerton, WA

  17. ‘God did not intend our moments to be wasted.’
    Came to the realization of this today, after wasting hours doing things I’d rather not tell. And being joyful at that moment definitely wasn’t in the books. Prayers for you, Andrew.
    And thank you for letting me know FMF. Been searching for a new community.

    • Michael, thank YOU. You are always an inspiration to me, a wise teacher of faith, and a true brother in Christ.

      I hope you’ll participate in Five Minute Friday. It’s literally been lifesaving for me; I have learned so much about life and faith and hope from these loving and warm people.

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