Christmas: Weary or Celebrating

Christmas Cross 2014

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I promised myself I was not going to do it again this year. I always come to December First, determined to not let my calendar get the best of me. Determined to make Jesus the center of all I do.

Almost without fail, I enter into Christmas morning, weary. Not excited to create a special breakfast for my family. Opening presents? Sure it’s great, but then there’s the dish to prepare for that evening’s celebration with my family, an hour away.

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Dear: Making Sure They Know

Christmas lights and ornaments

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—DEAR. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

DEAR

Why is it easier, during the Christmas season, to make sure those I hold most dear to my heart know they have claimed that place?

I buy gifts for them, take time to write personal messages in cards and letters. I look for opportunities to bless them in special ways.

I am purposeful.

Why not be purposeful during the rest of the year? Purposeful in dropping a line via email, or even on social media, to say, “Hey, I was thinking about you today.”?

Why not leave a note in my kids’ lunch box for them to discover sometime during their day? Reminders of my love for them, of what they mean to me?

It’s fine to take time during Christmas to make sure my dear ones know how I feel about them.

Grateful card

Wouldn’t it mean even more to them if on say, June 12, I sent them a note in the mail, of all things? Just to tell them, “I’m thinking about you? You matter to me.”?

I love receiving notes like this. They take me out of the normal of my day and leave me feeling special.

I want those I call dear to know by my actions that they are important to me. I may not have the money to buy them expensive gifts, but I have heartfelt words to share.

I can be intentional in letting them know they matter. To me. To others.

Sometimes it’s in that extra thought that a life is changed, that someone knows they are significant on this big blue earth filled with masses of people.

Even more, what if I was able to share with people just how dear they are to God? The Creator of these masses of people. And how amazing is it that we as individuals are dear to God—each one of us? I can’t quite fathom it.

Mary Manger copy

I guess I’ll have to focus on the way He showed us this: through the birth of his Son. Jesus. Amazing taking on the flesh of humble.

What better way for us to know just how dear we are to our heavenly Father?

What about you? How do you show people they matter to you? What’s one way someone has shown that you are dear to them? 

Visit Kate Motaung’s site for her Five Minute Friday: Dear post and a giveaway she’s doing until midnight tonight.

Traditions: Strengthening Connections

Prayerful hands

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The kid had been asking for weeks.

“We’re having breakfast pizza for Thanksgiving breakfast, right Mom?”

“Yes, honey. We are.” I assured him and made the mental list of the ingredients to pick up at the store.

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Give: Giving On Empty

Big hands little hands 2

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—GIVE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

GIVE

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the kind where you pour out and give of yourself and serve and  . . . the list goes on. You come to the end of the day exhausted, weary. And just plain DONE.

As a mom and as a wife, as a friend and as a daughter of God, sometimes I feel as though I have nothing left to give. The kid comes to me for the third time that day asking for forgiveness for mean words spoken.

The green beans burn on the stove top as I help with homework.

Snow falls and needs shoveling and the husband is out of town.

A friend calls with the worst kind of news to be shared.

I am empty.

Bread Dough Overflow

It’s when I come to the end of myself—of my reserves—that I see how much I need God. I need Him to fill me with Himself so I can continue to give to those He places in my daily path. I need to lean hard into Him, asking for His help.
I can’t do life on my own.

We’re heading into what could become a chaotic season, a time of celebrating Jesus’ birth and all He’s given to us. It’s imperative that I—that we—spend quiet time with him daily. It’s only after coming into His presence that we can offer the gift of ourselves to others.

My desire is to be His light, speak His encouraging words, be His hug to someone hurting. I want to be a gift to those around me. To give of myself to help them feel better.

WillowTree Creché

To give beyond my resources, I must ask the Lord to fill me with Himself. I can only give of Jesus when I’ve been with Him.

As we step into Christmas busy-ness, let’s purpose to give our time, our worship to the One who’s given everything to us.

What about you? How do you give of yourself to others? What do you do when you feel empty?

Vist Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—Give

Gratitude: Makes Life Rich

 

D Bonhoeffer gratitude makes life rich1

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

With this being the week we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, I thought it fitting to keep the post a little shorter and to meditate on gratitude.

Many thoughts filter around the internet about being thankful. This one from Dietrich Bonhoeffer stirs my spirit.

We have been given much. How often do we take time to 1) think about the many small gifts that enter into our day and 2) take time to acknowledge them with a thankful heart?

Whether the gratitude is for . . .

—each breath we take

—a car that runs

—a person who truly loves us—even when we’re unlovely

—a blue sky after a storm

—the beauty left behind after snow falls

—pets that are unfailingly loyal

—the hug of a child, or spouse, or friend

—food on the table

—a roof over our heads

—unseen protection

—God’s grace strengthening us

. . . we should be purposeful in acknowledging each gift.

We give of ourselves to those around us. This is good. But, let’s also take time to thank our Father for the many, many gifts He gives each day.

Whether we have a lot or we have little in terms of material goods, we have been given much by our Father. When we take time to thank Him for what He’s given, our lives become rich.

When we choose gratitude, I believe peace is a byproduct of this practice.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, my hope is that you can truly enter into a place of giving thanks for what you have been given.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What about you? What is one gift—big or small—you are thankful for? Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions you care to share?

Notice: Seeing Deeper Layers

11-18 Sunset 1

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—NOTICE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

NOTICE

I took a deep breath before I opened the door to his room. The words his brother passed along to me convinced me I’d done something to make this beloved child of mine AN-GRY.

When I asked him what I’d done, it took only a second to notice his words had nothing to do with me . . . and everything to do with the hurts inflicted on his sweet spirit during the school day.

If I had gone into his room with guns blazing and anger spewing, we would have shot our way through a mini-version of WW3, with both of us nursing word wounds.

Multi-colored tree

Instead, the Lord prompted me to notice the hurt in his words. First He calmed me, then He used me to calm my boy through just listening. No accusations, only a few probing questions. And a lot of listening.

It took time but God brought out the what was at the heart of his hurt. We talked, God gave me truth-words for him and we hugged and prayed. Then sunshine beamed on his face once more.

How often do I see only the surface of a situation—of words spoken—and miss the deeper layers? Too often, I’ll admit. When I am hurrying through a moment, I seldom take the time to notice what lies below the surface of my children, my husband or the current situation.

Sun highlights on bush

It’s important to take time to listen, to probe and to glean the root cause of words, of actions. When I notice my children, my friends, my family, then I can minister to them with Jesus’ love.

When I am still in the listening, then He can show me my role in the moment. God is ever faithful to minister to me and the other person.

If I will only notice.

What about you? How do you notice what’s going on in the hearts around you? When has someone noticed you?

***Visit Kate Motaung’s post—NOTICE.***

Discontentment: Watch Those Foxes

Red Foxes 1

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

One Friday afternoon, as the boys and I arrived home from school, I peeked into our backyard. My heart lurched when I spied two red foxes lounging in the grass as if they owned the place. They looked so cute as they soaked in the winter sunlight. When I opened the kitchen window to snap a picture, they stared back at me without a trace of  fear in their eyes.

They’d found their home.

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