Choices: What Will We Choose series, Trusting God

Choices: What Will We Choose—When Culture and God Collide

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’ve spent the last few months reading through the book of Jeremiah. The thing that struck me was how many times God gave His people the choice of whether or not to forsake their idols and worship Him. As I read, I realized how many times we have choices to make. In our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and especially with God. These next few weeks I will be sharing a 5-part series on choices (Read other posts here). I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

~~~~~

I don’t envy the prophet Jeremiah. At all.

He prophesied in a time when people didn’t want to hear his words. He was obedient to speak all that God gave him. And his was an unpopular message.

In Jeremiah 27, God gave Jeremiah a message for the new King Zedekiah. Words that grated against everything their culture believed. The culture told Zedekiah (and Judah’s inhabitants) that this land was theirs. They were to remain at any cost.

But Nebuchadnezzar.

Continue reading “Choices: What Will We Choose—When Culture and God Collide”

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Choices, Choices: What Will We Choose series, Humility, Series

Choices: What Will We Choose—When There Are No Easy Choices

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’ve spent the last few months reading through the book of Jeremiah. The thing that struck me was how many times God gave His people the choice of whether or not to forsake their idols and worship Him. As I read, I realized how many times we have choices to make. In our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and especially with God. These next few weeks I will be sharing a 5-part series on choices. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

~~~~~

I never intended to do it.

I never set out to talk smack about another person. And yet, there I sat, having dinner with a friend. She had begun working for a person I used to work for.

All I wanted to do was help my friend have a mindset that would help her work well with her boss.

And somewhere in the conversations (and I hang my head here), the talk sidled into gossip. As the Holy Spirit began to convict me, I tried to justify my words.

To explain to Him I was only sharing in order to help my friend.

Continue reading “Choices: What Will We Choose—When There Are No Easy Choices”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Hope

Story: Each Story is Unique

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—STORY. 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!

STORY

We’re each living a unique story. We have our individual experiences Joys. Sorrow. Obstacles. Overcoming.

No two people live an identical life. No two people have the exact same purpose while walking this earth.

Or, maybe we have the same purposes, but God has created us in such a way that only we can influence the people in our sphere.

God has created each of us to minister to those He’s placed in our lives. I can’t replace you in your world and minister as effectively. Nor can you replace me.

God brings beauty into each story.

Walking through infertility shaped me in a way that I can speak into the pain of waiting and of idolatry from the things He taught me.

You have walked through certain kinds of hard that equipped you to be a unique voice in the lives of others.

Though there may be shame in parts of our story, we should not be ashamed of those times. God redeems our shame. He uses those aspects of our story to speak life and truth into people.

Our stories are crafted by our Father. Shaped by His hand. Yes, most of us have gone our own way at times, But God still redeems.

God hasn’t called us to live our stories in shame. He’s called us to live for Him, allowing Him to continue to rewrite our pasts, to counter our lies with His truth.

He still writes His truth on our hearts and over our lives. God writes His love into the fabric of our lives.

He’s giving us opportunities to share our stories with others so that they too can learn what His love is first hand.

When we share the “pretty” and the “ugly” of our stories with others, they find hope. Because they see that God is the One who heals the broken-hearted,

who sings over them with love,

who rewrites the ugliness of their pasts and transforms their presents into beauty.

What about you? What words has God written over your life? How have you seen His hand redeeming your story? 

Click to Tweet: God writes His truth on our hearts and over our lives

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Story

Choices, God

Orphaned: When Love Has to Choose

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Tears welled in my eyes and my nose filled as I read the story.

Of a father in China whose 6-day old baby was in dire need of heart surgery. But he had no money to pay for the procedure that would save his baby boy’s life.

What’s a parent to do in the midst of such terrible choices? Bring the child home to die, or abandon them in the hopes that someone would take and care for them? Continue reading “Orphaned: When Love Has to Choose”

Dependence, Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Depend: When We Think It’s All Up to Us

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—DEPEND. 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!

***I went a little over five minutes. Here’s my offering for the week.***

DEPEND

I sometimes live in an orphan mindset (check out what Allen Arnold says about this). I get into this thought process that it’s all up to me. To mother well. To make time to write. To force story from me. To complete everything on my to-do list.

I depend on myself.

If I could take a poll, I suspect many of us would raise our hands admitting that we struggle with this kind of mindset from time to time.

We depend on ourselves as if we alone are responsible for the outcome. Whether its in fulfilling a dream, or a calling. Or being the spouse/parent we are called to be. Or (as a friend reminded me) in waiting.

I hate that I forget to depend on God. He is the One who gives dreams. Who places callings on us, in our hearts.

He is the only One who can fulfill them through us. And that, only as we come to Him with our crazy-desperate need.

When we are waiting for things to happen,

for the next step of a dream . . .

the next direction in a calling . . .

the next step toward a change in life . . .

we need to turn to the One—the only One—who is truly, completely, lovingly dependable.

I’m learning to turn my heart over to Him more quickly when I begin to stress about something. When the kid has a stinky ‘tude.

When the hubs and I have an argument.

When the story just. Won’t. Come. Forth.

It’s not all up to me.

Sometimes God allows us into the hard places—those circumstances that are way bigger than we are—so we learn to depend on Him for the outcome.

He is the only One who can create something from nothing. Who can bring hope in times of discouragement. He wants to walk these times out with us.

Our Father is the One who can fulfill us and fill those gaping places within us.

We can’t give ourselves more than what we already are. Does that make sense?

We can’t fill the empty spaces within ourselves.

Or make things happen that are naturally beyond us.

Only God can.

When we trust Him . . .

When we choose to believe that He is with us in the hard, in the discouraging . . .

When we choose to hold to the truths in His word regardless of what life tells us?

When we choose to do life with Him, no matter what circumstances tell us?

That’s when we will see Him move. Maybe not in the ways we expected, but always in the ways that are best.

What about you? How do you foster a mindset of depending on God during uncertain times? When have you seen Him “show up” when you chose to depend on Him?

Click to Tweet: We depend on ourselves as if we’re responsible for the outcome

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Depend

Check out this song, “Take Courage, My Friend.” It’s been on my heart all day!

ACFW, Expectations, Trusting God

Expectations: Reflections From ACFW 2017

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Have you ever entered an experience with a certain sort of expectation? I’ve done this. Many times. Sometimes those expectations are satisfied. More often, though, mine have been disappointed.

I just arrived home from my sixth ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. It’s hard to believe I’ve gone to so many. Most of those years, I’ve tucked hopes and dreams along with clothes into my luggage.

Each year, those hopes and dreams have shifted.

Continue reading “Expectations: Reflections From ACFW 2017”

Hope, Love, Relationship

Choice: When Love Is Hard

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The boy’s attitude ballooned up bigger than our doorway as we rushed out for school this morning.

Teenage troubles, loss of a cell phone, Homecoming drama and hard decisions? They all coalesced to create a simmering heat beneath his normally unfettered surface.

I couldn’t wait for the boy to exit the car in the carpool line. Loving him was not the first thing on my mind.

I had my own bubbling mess of irritation threatening to destroy the quiet I envisioned for this day.

Continue reading “Choice: When Love Is Hard”

Community, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Mothering

Support: When We Feel Alone


+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SUPPORT. 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!

SUPPORT

The moment the boy entered the car he was all about telling me about this great speaker who said a lot of things that he loved, and I . . . didn’t. Not that her thoughts weren’t accurate. But it was probably that my boy heard what he wanted to hear.

And he proceeded to pick apart every aspect of parenting that Hubs and I employ.

I smirked at one point. And white knuckled the steering wheel really hard at another. And I may have been a little heavy on the gas pedal.

See, some of the thoughts he conveyed are things I’ve been struggling with as a mom.

Mothering teens feels so lonely sometimes. 

And when the kid comes at you with everything he perceives is wrong and why he should have more of this and less of that? It’s enough to deplete the joy right out of me.

When the garage door went down, he stormed to his room, and I strode quickly to mine. And I breathed.

And I prayed.

And I realized I really, really needed to talk this out with a friend who’s further along the mothering journey than I am.

As I talked with her, some of the doubt pinging in my mind—the anger churning in my spirit—dissipated.

God used her words to renew my perspective.

We all need the support of others in our lives. God has given us those who have gone before us to help us navigate the hard seasons, the tricky decisions.

And He’s gifted us with others coming up behind us on the journey.

Whether they are in the parenting road, the dream-chasing road, or the hard-knocks road.

We always have the support of others, if we’ll seek it out. We also have opportunities to be a support . . . if we’ll open our eyes to find them.

After time distanced us from the solar flare, the boy and I were able to move forward together. He knows he has Hubs’ and my support. Even though he may not always like some of what we say.

We’re family. We love each other through the struggles and the joys.

What about you? How do you support those around you? How have others supported you?

Click to Tweet: We all need the support of others in our lives.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Support

God's Love, Identity, Perspective

Beauty: When the World Has Its Say

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Watching children grow up is both sweet and bittersweet. On the first day of junior high, as Edmund and I stood in line to check in, I watched former sixth grade girls—fellow classmates of my son—step into the line.

Many of them wore makeup, covering their natural beauty, their natural features. Brushing color onto their cheeks and nuancing their eyes to look more grown up, to appear more beautiful.

Continue reading “Beauty: When the World Has Its Say”

Perspective, Trials, Trusting God

Trust: Looking to God

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I was reading Psalm 37 the other day. I have always loved the first verses of this chapter. This time when I read it, verse three jumped out at me. In the ESV, it says,

“Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.”

We all hear about trusting in the Lord. We all know we should do it. And, many of us say we do this.

And, we probably do most of the time.

Continue reading “Trust: Looking to God”