Embrace: The Power of an Embrace

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—EMBRACE. 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!

EMBRACE

There’s something indescribable that happens in my heart when one of my boys slings an arm around my waist or my neck. From the time they were infants, there was something so . . . accepting in the simplicity of them wrapping their arms around my neck and squeezing.

Something so beyond satisfying as I held them close to my body.

Nowadays, those embraces come less often, but the sense of love—of safety—that comes for each of us is almost palpable.

There’s something that conveys safety in the wrapping of an embrace.

It’s true with physical embraces. What about those intangible embraces?

 

When we walk through a difficult season and God shows up? When He reveals himself in a way only God could? That’s like an embrace. It’s a tangible reminder that He loves us.

When He brings me face-to-face with something in my heart that needs change? That’s a hard embrace. But the hopeful thing is, He doesn’t just show me, He helps implement the change in the perfect way only He can.

Only a loving Father embraces the hard places in us and loves us enough to bring about change. Because it’s often in those hard lessons learned that we are gifted with freedom.

When we walk through seasons when that desire we’ve longed for, maybe even pinned hopes on, doesn’t come? We have to learn to trust. To wrap our arms around our Father’s neck and cry into his shoulder.

He holds us close and whispers words of love and truth as we pour out our hearts to Him.

 

God’s embraces may look a little different than we expect. But we can be assured that His safety is always there for us.

He’s not a predictable God, or a “safe lion,” as C. S. Lewis wrote, but He is always a good God, a loving Father, and a safe haven for us.

What about you? When have you experienced God’s embrace in your life? What’s one way God has taught you to trust Him?

Click to Tweet: What is in an embrace?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Embrace

See: When We Need to Look Upward

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

He sat by the temple gate called Beautiful. He was lame in both legs. Couldn’t even walk to his begging post.

What must he have felt? He couldn’t limp, much less walk, to the temple gate. Someone had to carry him there. No doubt dust kicked up into his face as people passed his begging post.

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Enough: Our Search For Significance

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I read a post recently that reminded me of a conversation I had with God a number of years ago. I had been very involved in our church, working in women’s ministry.

All that changed when God decided to fulfill a dream for my husband and me. He gifted us with our oldest son. As soon as we knew we were going to become parents, I let my boss know. He looked at me, a knowing expression in his eyes. “You’re leaving us, aren’t you?”

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Abandon: Living Abandoned or With Abandon

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—ABANDON. 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!

ABANDON

I’ll never forget the expression on our two-year old’s face when he thought we’d abandoned him. The terror, the people circling around him as his frantic eyes searched for us. I scooped him in my arms and tried to comfort him, but it took a long time.

How many times have I walked into a situation where I felt like an orphan abandoned?

Feeling that sense of abandonment does wretched things to a spirit. We feel the need to control everything. We’ll do anything to not feel abandoned.

The hard thing is when we grow up, and we’re still trying to control everything, we end up sacrificing intimacy with others—and with God—in our attempt to feel safe.

That’s the tricky thing about God. He is not one we can control. When we come into a relationship with Him, we have to choose.

We can only go as deep in intimacy with Him as we are willing to relinquish our perceived control.

When we let go of a little control, God moves into the space we have left open to Him.

But we have to trust Him. We have to believe that He loves us and that He only allows those things into our lives that will benefit us . . . sooner or later.

 

As we release the grip we’ve had on our lives,

. . . as we choose to trust Him,

. . . we begin to live life with a beloved child’s mindset. Not in an orphan’s mindset.

When we trust our Father to do what’s good in our lives, we can go from living abandoned to living with abandon.

When we allow God into all the areas of our lives, He transforms us. Sometimes it’s immediate, but more often transformation is a work in progress.

 

Instead of frantically looking around—like my son—we can look with confidence or at least peace.

Even when the hard comes.

Even when we have no control.

Because when we know and trust the One . . . when we look to Him we are never abandoned. We’re never invisible.

What about you? When have you chosen to live with abandon? What lessons have you learned by living knowing you are loved by God?

Click to Tweet: When we allow God in He transforms

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Abandon

Broken: When We Let Jesus In

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

She entered the city leader’s home. Quiet, probably unobtrusive, carrying an alabaster vial of something.

As Jesus and His disciples sat at the table of the leader, she broke her vial over His feet. No doubt the aroma permeated the home, filling it with the heady scent of the costly perfume.

I wonder what everyone thought. No one said a word to her, at first. The men talked around her as if she couldn’t hear them. As if she was invisible.

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Purpose: When We Don’t Understand

foggy-morning-trees

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PURPOSE. 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!

***Confession: I took a couple more minutes than five to write this.***

PURPOSE

Last year, I shared a little bit about how I put my brave on and sent in a manuscript to an agent. I had done my very best to it. Had people read it and give me their insights. I thought it was ready.

Turns out, it wasn’t.

I was beyond discouraged. A small part of me briefly (very briefly) considered ending my writing journey.

What was God’s purpose in helping me put on my brave only to be rejected? 

I had to take some time to work through the discouragement.

The agent didn’t send a blanket “thanks-but-no-thanks” letter. She gave me feedback on how to improve my manuscript.

fog-in-the-grasses

 

Can you say G-I-F-T?

As God helped me work through this, He gave me the opportunity to work with a very godly woman who challenged and stretched me. The first time we talked, I was crying within two minutes because God showed her things she couldn’t have known about me.

He decided it was time to do some healing in my heart.

This purpose could never have been accomplished if my manuscript had been accepted by that agent. God used much of last year to unlock emotions within me that I had pushed down since girlhood.

He used those months and the insights from my mentor to teach me the beauty of trusting Him and close friends with my honest thoughts and feelings. For some people, this is basic stuff.

For me, who was shaped by the lie that certain emotions were not acceptable? And that to gain acceptance (and avoid rejection) I had to only show the acceptable feelings . . . this has been a scary and incredibly freeing journey.

God always has a purpose in allowing us to go through the hard.

Often we don’t understand the fullness of it until after the fact. When we’re in the moment—in the strong emotional season—we can’t always see the work He is doing behind the screen of our life.

god-always-has-a-purpose-copy

 

We have to come to a place of being able to view our circumstances through God’s lens.

Then, He might give us a glimpse of His purposes for allowing us to walk through hard times.

Often, those hard seasons bring us to the end of ourselves. They strip us of self-centeredness. And, when we let Him, God sands off a little bit more of us so a little bit more of Him shines through.

What about you? When has God shown His purpose to you? What have you learned during the hard seasons of your life?

Click to Tweet: God always has a purpose in allowing us to go through the hard

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung, where many other wonderful writers also link up. Five Minute Friday—Purpose

Stress: When We Need to Trust

black-and-white-winter-road

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My life’s been humming with a constant undercurrent of stress. I’ve said before that these past few months have had a lot going on in them. Lots of unexpected things to handle. Many moments of drama to work through with the boys, neighbors, and others.

And they’ve left me in this state where there’s no stillness. As I spent some time with the Lord last week, Psalm 125 stopped me. Verse one says:

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

    which cannot be shaken but endures forever. (NIV)

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Slow: What We Need When Life Goes Crazy

Sunlight on waves

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SLOW. 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!

SLOW

These past thirty days have held constant motion. Frenetic, Unstopping. Stress.

After hubs left on his last trip in January, I discovered our son needed surgery. I already had a surgery scheduled for me. The other son was working on a National History Day project . . . with lots of prodding from mama.

So many unexpected things coming up, sapping my energy. My focus.

Sleep wasn’t coming.

Stress.

Even since hubs has gotten back, it’s been surgeries, follow up appointments, and dealing with illness. Unexpected things happening that needed to be handled.

Those things needing to be dealt with have stolen my margin time. Time I normally use to replenish my soul.

And here I am, near the end of February, hungering for a little bit of slow.

I yearn to slow down the frenetic pace of life. To simply breathe in a day that has nothing planned outside the four walls of my home.

The freedom to let down and lean into Jesus’ presence.

Destin waves in sun

 

God didn’t create us to run on crazy all the time. There are seasons, but it shouldn’t become a lifestyle.

My crazy hasn’t become a lifestyle yet. And my crazy is calm compared to some, I know this.

I’m seeing the need to rebuild margin into my days . . .

. . . To give myself permission to do the things I enjoy.

Even at the expense of getting something ‘urgent’ done.

God encourages us to remember that He’s got this. He’s got a handle on everything that’s happening in my life. Our lives.

He’s not taken by surprise when unexpected things pop into our days.

He’s not sitting in shock and worrying about how these situations will be handled.

He’s encouraging us to look to Him and to remember that we can be still. We can come into his presence, be still, and remember that He is indeed God.

psalm-46-10-copy

 

He wants us to invite Him into the crazy. To listen to His guidance.

To do this, we must slow down a little so we can hear His voice.

What about you? When you’re running in the crazy-mode, how do you slow down? What’s been the biggest help for you when you’re in a crazy season?

Click to Tweet: God didn’t create us to run crazy all the time

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Slow

Complain: When Provision Looks Different Than We Expected

River rocks K-trail

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The other day, I was reading in Numbers 11 . You may know the story . . . the one about how the Israelites were tired of manna. They wanted meat, doggone it. And why couldn’t they just be in Egypt, where the food was free, and there was variety?

Never mind the fact that they were slaves, treated cruelly by the Egyptians. But they had good food!

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Weak: When We Are Weak

qt-in-the-morning

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—WEAK. 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!

WEAK

It’s been coming on for the past few months. Weeks of unending demands on my energy, my time, and my spirit have sapped strength right out of me.

Traveling, two surgeries (one for a son and one for me) two days apart, and life still doesn’t stop for recovery. Though my hubs has been wonderful.

I feel weak. I’m doing my best to do the important things . . .

Spending time with God.

Praying.

Exercising (kind of).

Eating right.

Trying (and I emphasize trying) to get enough sleep.

Things keep sabotaging  my best-laid plans to do it all right.

I am so very weak.

2-cor-12-10-copy

 

God seems to be using this season in my life to draw me closer to Himself. We can do our best to take care of ourselves—all of ourselves—but that doesn’t guarantee we’ll walk through every season strong.

Some seasons are too demanding. We can’t face them in our own strength. Only with the help of Jesus.

When we can admit our weakness to the Lord, then He can strengthen us with His power, His love, His energy.

These are a few things I’m learning in my season of weakness:

  1. Bring our need before the Lord. Confessing honestly how desperately I need Him
  2. Do our best to take care of ourselves, but don’t rely solely on ourselves to get through these seasons. Only God can bring us through them well.
  3. Share our needs with friends who will pray for us. Some will help in other ways. One friend has sent an encouraging meme daily to lift my eyes to Jesus
  4. Being honest with others about our need gives them a chance to serve us, to bless us, and to remind of of God’s goodness. hoarfrost-pine-needles

 

It is true. When we are weak, and we walk with Jesus, then we are truly strong.

What about you? What has helped you through seasons of weakness? When has God met you in that weak place in a very real way?

Click to Tweet: Some seasons we’re just not strong enough to walk through on our own

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—WEAK