Hope: When We Can Say It Is Well

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

A little over a year ago, when I first heard Bethel Music’s, “It Is Well,” things in my life were going well. It seemed I was close to fulfilling a long-held dream. My health was good. I was surrounded by people who “got” me. They understood what made me tick. The song resonated. Of course it was well with my soul. I could hum it and sing it and believe it with all my heart.

It’s easy to say, “It is well with my soul” when we’re in the good times.

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Crave: When We Want More

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CRAVE. 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!

CRAVE

First of all: I confess, I went slightly over five minutes on this one. I hope you’ll allow me a bit of grace.🙂

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It’s only December first and I’m already weary. It’s been “A Week.” With internet woes and an injury requiring stitches, I already feel the glare of this month, as it tries to stare me into submission. As it attempts to make me obey its whims and plans.

But what I crave is times of stillness, of quiet moments with Jesus. It’s only as I spend time in His word and in worship that I am able to recalibrate my spirit.

It’s the only way to get through a busy season without arriving at Christmas morning exhausted, grouchy, and worn down. I’ve had too many Christmas seasons where I do and do and do. I come to the morning most anticipated by my boys . . . too tired to enjoy it.

The older I grow, the more I crave simplicity. The only way toward simplicity is to be intentional.

So instead of letting the month of December stare me down, and tell me I have to bring about all our traditions, say yes to every invitation or opportunity to serve, I’m going to be intentional.

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I am going to pray before saying yes. I’ve learned that I need to say no to some good things to say yes to the best things.

I may sound idealistic, but I am taking control of this month, as best as I can.

I’m going to say no to certain traditions because we simply don’t have time to do them this year.

I’m going to pray for God’s guidance before committing to anything.

I’m going to be intentional about savoring moments with my family. Our boys are growing quickly. I love to laugh with them. To talk about the things on their hearts.

If I’m too busy with trying to make things happen, I’ll miss those moments. I’ll miss Jesus’s whispers into my heart about what’s most important.

I don’t want to arrive at the day where we celebrate Him too exhausted to care. I don’t want to wake up on December 25th and wish it was over already.

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If I am intentional now, I can satisfy the craving in my spirit to connect with Jesus. And the bonus will be having a heart open to His promptings about the other things that come up this month. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t feel quite so weary come Christmas morning.

What about you? what does your spirit crave during December? How do you feed yourself during busy season?

Click To Tweet: I crave is times of stillness, of quiet moments with Jesus.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung Five Minute Friday—Crave

Gift: What We Can Give To Others

Jesus ornament

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We are officially in the holiday season. Though there’s not much snow and festive weather in my corner of the country, it doesn’t change the fact that the holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving is in the past and Christmas looms large in my life’s windshield.

Hubs and I have completed most of our shopping. But there are parties to prepare for. Boys’ band concerts to attend. Activities to do so we can build memories with our quickly growing up boy-men. A house to decorate. Things to make. Gifts to wrap. Things to DO.

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Gratitude: What Gratitude Does

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We were tromping through a dump in Manila when I first understood how much abundance I possess.

I was on my first far-away missions trip, and that day was eye-opening. In groups of two-three, we visited with the residents who lived there.

Yes, people lived in the dump. Where rancid water puddled on the unpaved roads. Where young children dug in the high mounds of trash, searching for copper to sell. Where the danger of the methane gas and the instability of those mounds could lead to death with one misstep.

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Enjoy: When Life Is Busy

Thanksgiving Breakfast table

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—ENJOY. 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!

ENJOY

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is in ONE. WEEK. Where has this year gone? How much activity and busy-ness will these final weeks hold?

It’s going to be a struggle to not get sucked into the siren’s call to get everything finished. Concerts attended. Hugs given out. Letters completed and mailed out. Presents wrapped. Parties attended.

With so much busy-ness and unexpected happenings on the calendar? How does one enjoy the season?

As I recall, Jesus came into this world on a quiet night. The world was bustling around Him, but He came in stillness. And in stress. Joseph sought a place for Mary to give birth to Him. The Savior of the world.

He didn’t come into the middle of a big city. But in a stable. With the low rumble of animal breathing for His lullabies.

Shepherds were His greeters. And a few wise men.

candles-stillness

The point is, there was some busy-ness, but there was also sacred stillness.

I’m staring down the squares that represent the days left in this year, and if I let them, they are going to consume me.

I could come to December 31st tired. Disappointed in the things the season didn’t hold.

I feel the stress. I want the stillness.

The beauty of thinking about this now is that I have time to make some choices.

Because in the midst of the busy-ness, I can create times of stillness. I can choose to slow down enough to savor moments with my husband, our sons. With extended family. With friends.

I get to decide which activities I say yes—or no—to. I can decide what I do so I can enjoy this season.

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After all, we’re celebrating giving thanks, aren’t we? We’re rejoicing in Jesus’ birth in a few short weeks. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t want us so worn out that we can’t enjoy the party. That we can’t savor being with Him.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about for this post, but I think the post found me. God’s giving me a nudge to choose to enjoy. Not to endure. And not to exhaust myself.

What about you? What choices can you make to enjoy this season? How do you create moments of stillness during this time of year? 

Click to Tweet: I feel the stress. I want the stillness.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s site Heading Home—Enjoy

Gratitude: What We Have and Have Not

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’ve said before . . . it’s been a year. I’m choosing to focus on gratitude this month. As I’ve pondered what I want to share, the above quote stood out to me.

I have received much from the Lord this year:

When I tore my ACL, I had a great surgeon to help fix me up. And superb physical therapists to exercise me back to full mobility.

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Common: What Makes Us Significant?

Rain covered leaf

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—COMMON. 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!

COMMON

I’ve lived much of my life believing I am common. There’s nothing special about me. I have faults, I get on peoples’ nerves. I’ve fallen short so many times. I have realized that I sometimes equate “common” with “failure.”

I realized that in my mind, “common” meant “insignificant.” Not special. I suspect most of us want to feel special—significant—in some way.

Some of us try to get really good at some talent or skill we have. Because then we stand out. We don’t look common.

Some people were blessed with good looks. They enhance those through what they wear, how they style their hair.

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Some of us, who have had the lie that we are “less than” ingrained into our belief systems, we have a hard time seeing ourselves as unique. WE can only see the ordinary, not-standing-out aspects of ourselves.

The thing is? God sees each of us as unique, as significant. He sees each of us through His eternal eyes of love. He sees the beauty, the passion, the fierceness He instilled into each of his creations.

The thing is? We are all works in progress. We are all created by God. He sees each of us as unique. He created each of us with a purpose only we could fulfill. No one else can do what He intended for us to do (see Ephesians 2:10).

In God’s eyes, no-one is common. Each of us is precious in His sight. 

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He understands our failings and looks at them as learning opportunities. He sees the wounds we’ve lived with and sees them as things that can draw us closer to Him. That can conform us into Jesus’ image. God sees His fingerprints in every cell of who we are.

To Him we are not common. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

What about you? What is one unique thing about you? How do you keep an accurate perspective about who you really are?

Click to Tweet: He created each of us with a purpose only we could fulfill.

I’m linking up with Kate over at Heading Home—Common

 

Chosen and Approved: Whatever She’s Having, Please

chosen

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We are in part six—our final installment—of  the series, Chosen and Approved: Untangling Our Identities from People and Perfection. Emily Conrad, Mary Geisen, and I are still works-in-progress, learning to find our identities and value in Jesus alone.

We’ve so enjoyed walking this journey with you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories with us!

If you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can find them all here: Chosen and Approved.

This week, Emily Conrad writes:

“My sister and I took stock of the inventory, and my sister made her choice: a mechanical dog about ten inches tall with soft white fur. It walked on a leash, barked, and did back flips.

When I declared that I wanted the same thing, my aunt tried to gently talk me out of it. Wouldn’t I prefer a horse? Because, after all, I loved everything to do with horses. I read books about them, collected Breyer horses, drew them, used them in imaginary play. Everything was about horses. 

But I passed up all the pretty horses in that store to get what my sister was getting.”

As I read Emily’s story from her girlhood, I thought back to how many times I’ve chosen others’ preferences over mine . . . all in the name of being accepted. It’s taken me decades to realize that what I like—my preferences—have value because I am valued. By God and others.

When my hubs and I began dating, I had this “ability” to select whatever he was picking to eat for dinner at restaurants. He finally called me on it and assured me that I could—and should—pick what I wanted to eat. It was such a small thing, but it took me awhile to become comfortable with selecting the entree that sounded the tastiest to me.

I’ve also found myself picking what the other person picks because I didn’t want to feel left out, or I didn’t want to be thought of as lacking in some way. I didn’t want what I desired to be thought of as “not as good as” another person’s. Crazy, I know.

When we can find the confidence to embrace the unique preferences God has given us, we can live in freedom. We are no longer tied down by trying to fit in, or trying to not stand out.

Please join me over at Emily’s site today to read the rest of her story and her beautiful takeaways.

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup.

Journey: When We’re Weary

Red dirt path

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—JOURNEY. 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!

JOURNEY

I’ve said it before. This year has turned out so differently than I anticipated.

It’s held many complications to “my” plans, my hopes. So many distractions.

Hubs traveling. Boys bickering. Injuries thrown in. Disappointments along the way.

Right now, my journey—my path— feels overrun with vines.

And I am . . . weary.

I shouldn’t be irritated by the small things, I know I shouldn’t. But when I am weary, irritation is one of the first indicators. My poor family.

God never promises us an easy journey. Whether we’re on the marriage journey, the parenting journey, the infertility journey, the dream-seeking journey, or the illness journey.

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He never promises us a smooth and rock-free path.

He never declares it will be a hill-less hike.

Instead, it’s a journey where we sometimes get tripped up. The path turns in unexpected directions. Sometimes we trip on the rocks in the path. At times, the path is so narrow we barely fit on it without plummeting from the drop off a few inches away.

There are seasons where the path is even. Times when things go fairly smoothly.

And there are times when the path I’m walking feels steep, defeating, and discouraging.

One thing I’ve learned is that, no matter where I’m at in my journey, I need to trust my Father. He knows each step coming up for me.

Quiet Path

 

When my eyes are fixed on Him, though I may trip, the recovery won’t be as difficult, because God is there. Though I may stumble or get caught up in the vines of unmet expectations (with people or circumstances), God’s grace will catch me. He will untangle me. He will set me aright again.

He will always be with me. With us on every step of our journey.

What about you? When your journey has been hard or discouraging, how did you work through it? What’s your favorite verse for those times when the journey feels overwhelming?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday—Journey

Click to Tweet: He knows each step coming up for me. 

Chosen and Approved: You Are—Your Identity in Christ

chosen

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We are in part five of  the series, Chosen and Approved: Untangling Our Identities from People and Perfection. Emily Conrad, Mary Geisen, and I are still works-in-progress, learning to find our identities and value in Jesus alone. We’d love for you to join us each Tuesday through November 8th and share your journey with us.

This week, Mary Geisen writes:

“the world paints lies with just enough detail to resemble your outline and you visibly shrink against the portrait wishing for so much more.”

 

These words caught me, because I’ve been the girl she describes. I look at the outline of the world’s lies, or incomplete truths, and I take that as gospel. And I wish for so much more than the picture painted.

So many voices vie for our attention, don’t they? The world, shouting its messages of what we should look like, what we should do, who we should be . . .

There are those messages in our own minds . . . the ones that tell us how we have failed, not lived up to others’ expectations (or our own).

If you’re at all like me, it gets kind of noisy inside our heads sometimes. All those words, spoken in condemning, demanding tones of voice (that sound suspiciously like our own).

How do we filter out the messages? How do we know what we should be listening to? How do we know which of the voices trying to define our identities is accurate?

As Mary says, the world and our own voices often paint an incomplete silhouette of all God has created us to be. We can be discouraged with the often skewed incomplete picture, or we can learn truth that helps us to know which voice we need to listen to.

This week, Mary’s post speaks firm yet gentle truth to a spirit that is weary of trying to figure out what—or who—defines our identity. Join me as I click over to her site to read the rest of her encouraging, uplifting words.

Today, I’m linking up with Katie Reid for #RaRaLinkup