Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Why: When There Are No Answers

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—WHY. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. 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!

WHY

When I saw the word for tonight, an old Point of Grace song came to mind. 

I thought about the heartbreak in the news this week of the school shooting in Florida. I’m not sure I’m ready to write about this yet. As I prayed and pondered about what I would share, “Who Am I?” came to mind. It’s comforted me on the roads of heartache.

*****

There are so many questions in my mind, my heart, that begin with Why?

There are times when I wish I had the answers, the capability of understanding the workings and secrets of God.

I don’t understand the why’s of being rejected by my peers as a child and the heartache that season inflicted on me.

I don’t understand why God allowed my husband and me to be unable to bear biological children when teen moms could and aborted. I don’t understand why we walked for years on the infertility road.

This is what I know. There are going to be questions I will never see answered this side of heaven. Just because God may not choose to answer my Whys, doesn’t mean He doesn’t love me, or that He loves me less than others.

When my eyes are wrapped up in the whys of my own life, I am me-focused.

Maybe the better questions to ponder revolve around Him.

Why would He choose to love me, and all the people He’s ever created? Why would He pour out His grace on us, even when we sin against Him and each other? Even when we walk away from Him?

Why would He choose to strengthen His children to walk through this life’s hard with His light shining through us?

Why?

One word: LOVE

We may not understand why things happen in our world. They break our hearts. Hurt us to our cores.

We may feel oh, so alone sometimes. Lost.

We’re not.

In those seasons when we ask WHY . . .

. . . we are single

. . . Married to _____

. . . Unemployed

. . . Working in a difficult job

. . . Losing a loved one

. . . Dealing with cancer and illness

. . . Devastated by life’s heartbreaks

Those are the seasons we should be seeking God Himself rather than answers.

Sometimes the answers are beyond our understanding.

But our Father? He is intimately acquainted with us. He loves us. He walks with us in the midst of the hardest seasons. He knows the answers we’re ready for, and the ones we’re not ready for.

Maybe when we want to ask why, we can choose to trust instead, to rest in His love and care for us?

What about you? How do you respond when God offers silence in answer to your Why? When has God given you an answer to your why?

Click to Tweet: Why would He choose to love me, and all the people He’s ever created?

Linking up with Five Minute Friday—WHY

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Love, Revelation Series

Revelation (series) Love—Who Do You Love Most?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.

The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we. 

We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! 

~~~~~~~

When our pastor’s wife asked me out to lunch, I was excited . . . and nervous. What would we talk about?

Through the course of our time together, she asked if I would be willing to work in our church’s women’s ministry department. The request humbled me.

She wanted me?

There was something gratifying, yet somber about the thought of taking on the mantle of women’s ministry. I prayed hard about this decision.

Thought about it.

Used the question, “If I say no and look back in five years, will I regret not doing this?”

Continue reading “Revelation (series) Love—Who Do You Love Most?”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Intentional Living

Privilege: When We Have Much

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PRIVILEGE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. 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!

PRIVILEGE

I’ve never felt so humbled as the evening I showed simple pictures of my family to the Filipino people surrounding me. We were told to bring a few pictures on the mission trip that we could share. But nothing that conveyed all that we have in this country.

So, being the scrapbooker I am, I selected a few pics of my oldest son (10 months old at the time), my hubs, and called it good.

That night people looked at my boy, but what they saw was our home. Their comment was: “Wow, you have a big house.”

Oh, the thoughts that raced through my mind. The backdrop behind my boy was dim.

I almost cried.

They had no idea that this picture was snapped in our living room. Not seen in the pictures was our dining room, kitchen, family room and the second-level with bedrooms.

They had no idea. What “normal” looks like in the United States.

And neither did I. What “normal” looks like in the Philippines.

I realized that evening how very privileged we are in the United States. Most families have at least one car. More than one bathroom in their homes. Multiple televisions. And things to call their own.

Too often, we take what we have for granted.

Privilege defined by Merriam-Webster: “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor: prerogative; especially: such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office.”

When I read tonight’s word, the thought that resonated most with me was that, compared to heaven, we are dirt poor.

And yet, Jesus left His paradise, His perfect place, to live among us. He left his “‘mansion,” so to speak, to live in a hovel.

Why?

Love.

Jesus gave up His privileged position out of love for us.

He came to a dirt-poor planet because He loved us more than His position in heaven.

How can we not choose to love those who have so much less than us?

No, I’m not saying we are all called to sell everything we own and move to Africa, though there are those who do.

What can we do from here?

What about loving through prayer?

Through giving to organizations who help those in need?

What about through finding the single parents in our communities and coming alongside them?

We don’t have to look far to find those who are much less privileged than us.

May we choose to be like Jesus and give up some of our conveniences to love others the way He does.

What about you? What have you seen that reminds you how privileged you are? How are you intentional with your resources?

Click to Tweet: Jesus loved us more than His position in heaven

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Privilege

Culture, Faith

Boundaries: When We Play God

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I’m sure our city officials had a good reason for changing the way red lights and turning arrows operate here. Where once yellow arrows for left-hand turns gave drivers extra time to turn, now arrows turn to red . . . and drivers know they’ll be waiting instead.

In a world where everyone is in a big, fat hurry, a red light can be a major frustration. I’ve watched cars fly through the intersection once that turn arrow flips to red. They don’t want to wait another two-three minutes for a chance to speed on their way.

Continue reading “Boundaries: When We Play God”

Authenticity, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Agree: Can We Be Authentic?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—AGREE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. 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!

AGREE

God has imprinted the word, Authentic, on my heart. I spent a year focusing on that word, and God taught me much.

More than almost anything, I want to live an authentic life. One that reflects Jesus through words and actions.

A life that is honest and real with those around me. Especially the ones I love the most.

Authentic and Agree do not always co-exist.

For decades I spent so much time trying to be agreeable. To fit in. To be accepted.

I could agree with almost anyone (within reason) and think I was being honest. With myself. With them.

But the truth is: we are not always going to agree with people. Things will be done that bother us. Words will be spoken that hurt. Are unfair. Untrue.

Do we just have to brush over it for the sake of agreement? Of unity? Of being godly?

Sometimes, to agree with someone is to be inauthentic.

It’s easy to agree with others to avoid conflict. But when that’s the main reason for agreement, we lose a piece of ourselves and gain compromise and falseness.

We don’t have to enter into conflict all the time. But we need to accept the fact that there will be times when, to be authentic is the higher calling. To agree with someone or something will strip our “real-ness” and replace it with a phony.

Can we be authentic and disagree with someone? Yes. Can we do it in love? Hopefully.

This is what God calls us to. When we disagree with another, may we do so in a loving way. God doesn’t call us to be right or even authentic above all else. He calls us to love.

This looks different depending on relationships, circumstances. But if we can reflect His love in a situation, authenticity can weave deeper into the fabric of who we are.

What about you? How do you disagree with someone in a loving manner? How do you live out authenticity?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes to agree with someone is to be inauthentic

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Agree

Intentional Living, Mothering

Time: When the Years Fly By

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Only three more slots.

I admit it. I’ve been terrible about keeping baby books for the boys. Or even those cute little books that highlight their elementary years. Yeah, I think they’re more empty than full.

But, this weekend, I determined to catch up their kindergarten through twelfth grade photo frames. And it hit me so hard I had to swallow back tears.

I only have three more slots to fill with pictures of my oldest. When he noticed it, he got a little sad.

How is it the years have flown so quickly?

Continue reading “Time: When the Years Fly By”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Infertility, Trusting God

Surrender: Making the Choice

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SURRENDER. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. 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!

If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know part of my story is a walk through the valley of infertility. As I thought about this word, God brought to mind a lesson from those years . . .

And I’m sorry, I went a few minutes over five tonight . . . 

~~~~~~~

SURRENDER

Was it too much to ask? Really?

All I wanted was the gift of being able to bear a child. To carry one within, go through the blessed pain of birth, of sustaining from my own body . . . God created women’s bodies to do this.

So why couldn’t mine? Why wouldn’t mine?

This desire to bear children is God-given. It wasn’t too much to ask.

Yet every month, my body betrayed me by acting normal, as it always had.

I begged God. Begged friends to pray. Did research on how to get pregnant.

But God.

I wept. I got angry. I felt despair at times. Deep despair.

And still, no baby.

I spent hours in God’s word. Tried to serve. Tried to ignore the fact that teenage mothers were having babies they didn’t want. And I (and Hubs) who wanted a baby couldn’t have one.

I fisted this desire and held it tight in my heart. So tight I thought my heart would crack.

God finally challenged me. He showed me how I had made this baby-thing an idol. It had become more important to me than an authentic relationship with Him.

He challenged me to surrender this craving for motherhood. To lay it in His hands, with no promises.

And it was one of the hardest things I’d done up to that point in my life.

As I searched verses for this post I saw a common thread in surrender. When we surrender something, or ourselves, we have to choose to do so. We have to choose to give up . . .

Give up ourselves, our hearts, our desires. We have to Let. Go.

When we are obedient in the surrender, God honors that. He spares things. He blesses His people. He handles us with love. No matter what we’ve done. How willful we’ve been.

When we refuse? When His people won’t surrender? Things inevitably become more difficult.

When we cling to our own way over God’s way? He can’t make anything good come of that. He will wait and let us wear ourselves out. He doesn’t love us less. But He won’t usually wait too long for us to make a different choice.

When we choose to walk in disobedience, we walk outside the umbrella of His protection. And the consequences will come.

When we choose to walk in the center of God’s will, He affirms us in that choice. He doesn’t always make it easier. Sometimes it feels harder.

But when we surrender our will to walk in His? That’s when we walk with assurance.

Surrendering this deep-hearted desire for motherhood brought me to a place of humility. It also renewed my love for God.

And in time—His time—He gave us the gift of our two boys. I’m not sure if I’d ever have  had the privilege of being their mom if I hadn’t first chosen to trust God when He told me to let go.

What about you? What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to surrender? What is the most impacting lesson you’ve seen come out of surrendering?

I love this song by Lincoln Brewster and it fits with this week’s post. I hope you enjoy it!

Click to Tweet: When we choose to walk in the center of God’s will, He affirms us in that choice

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Surrender

 

Identity, Priorities

Identity: The Greatest Showman

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

We just got home from watching The Greatest Showman (Click title to see trailer). I’m just going to say it. I loved the movie. So many life-infusing themes woven into one story . . . besides the fact that they made my writer’s heart happy, they uplifted me at the deepest levels.

There are so many different themes that resonated with me, but the one that hummed the deepest parts of me was P. T. Barnum’s journey to understand the essence of his identity.

I’ll begin by saying this is Hollywood’s rendition of P. T. Barnum’s rise to fame. That said . . .

Phineas T. Barnum comes from a poor background. He holds certain beliefs based on things that happened when he was a boy.

Continue reading “Identity: The Greatest Showman”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Intentional Living

Intentional: Living With Intention

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—INTENTIONAL. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. 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!

As I learned what our word is for this week, I had to smile. I spent last year focusing on this word: Intentional. As I prayed tonight, I got excited about what I might share. So…here goes…

INTENTIONAL

One year ago, I had some understanding of what it means to live intentional. Walking through 2017 focusing on this One Word was transformational for me. God taught me how to be more intentional in my relationships with my family, with friends, with Him, and in writing.

I learned a lot about what it means to live intentional.

I got lots of practice on relating with our boys as they mature and walk out the teen years. I became intentional in the words I did—and didn’t—share.

God still has much to teach me about living every area of my life with intentionality.

The biggest thing He’s speaking to me about right now is to do life WITH Him.

To parent with Him.

To “wife” with Him.

To write with Him.

God wants me to do things with Him. He doesn’t want me to do everything on my own and then ask/expect Him to bless the work of my hands. Done in my own strength.

By myself.

When I commit my ways to the Lord, when I trust in Him? That’s when he goes to work in my life.

But more than that, He wants me (us) to remember that I’m not “doing life” alone. He is always with us. He yearns for intimacy with me and each of us. He wants us to remember we are not orphans. We are loved. Deeply. By a caring Father.

When we walk through life we can intentionally draw near to Him. Commit our thoughts, desires, fears, frustrations, those deep yearnings of our hearts to Him. 

We all have things we’re called to do. Whether it’s caring for others, for animals, vocations, nurturing relationships . .. He wants us to do these things with Him.

More important than the things we do, we are the main thing with God. Not our dreams, responsibilities . . . not our jobs, our callings.

Intimacy with God . . .

When I’m intentional about spending time with Him, seeking Him out each day, He renews my perspective. And God aligns the other things in my life. That is the best way to live intentional.

What about you? What helps you to be intentional in how you live out each day? How do you define “Intentional?”

Click to Tweet: God wants us to remember we’re not “doing life” alone

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Intentional

Control, Trusting God

Control: When We Choose to Trust

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I strolled along the beach just after the sun came up, staying to the “combed” part of the sand. I didn’t want the inconvenience of getting my feet crusted with wet sand and then having to rinse them off before I wandered inside the hotel.

As sand crumbled beneath my toes, I was stuck by the way the waves smoothed part of the sand as they washed upon the shore. How they recorded their mark of how far they rolled up and then crept back to where they began.

The contrast intrigued me.

Continue reading “Control: When We Choose to Trust”