Alone: Blessings in Alone Time

Ps 37-4

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

ALONE

In 1994, I attended eleven (yes, eleven) weddings, and I was a bridesmaid in three of them. At that point in my life, all I wanted was to be a wife and a mom. I was a teacher, which was great, but I was doing life alone. And at that point, a small part of me feared I would always be alone.

During that season of my life, the Lord taught me a few things. First of all, He gave me a verse to cling to—Psalm 37:4. He reminded me that when my desire is Him, contentment will always follow.

Contentment isn’t always an easy gift to choose. But once we cling to it, peace seems to be the surprise gift that tags along behind. What the Lord showed me during that time alone was that my focus could be on Him only, and He was a great place to focus!

I found myself during those alone times. I learned not to dread a Sunday afternoon by myself. I had the freedom to read a novel, or study the Bible. I could play volleyball with friends, on a whim.

I began to see aspects about me God wanted to work on, changes that would conform me into the image of Jesus.

Bench Alone

In those alone times I learned to be okay with not having all my dreams right then. Sometimes God uses those uncomfortable seasons in our lives to prepare us for the dreams He has for us. He scrapes out the chaff we’ve allowed to grow within our hearts, and He replaces it with His clear presence. He enables us to reflect him more accurately.

He prepares us for when He does bring our dreams to fruition.

If I had met my husband before 1994—if I was planning a wedding that year—I would have missed out on some of the gifts He had for me. I would have been into the role of wife, without completely understanding the beauty that comes from putting Jesus first. I would have missed out on the blessings that come from solitude . . .

. . . Of knowing His nearness.

Sunset glory

There were times when the loneliness ate at me. I’ll be honest. Mother’s Day three states away from my mom? All my married friends spending time with their families? Yeah, it was hard.

But, I learned to seek Jesus in those days. And in His presence, I’m never alone.

What about you? What blessings have you gained in the “alone times?” How have you handled times when you didn’t want to be alone but were?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—Alone

Life Lessons: If We Will Just Move—Guest Post by Tiffany Parry

Moving Stream

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I met Tiffany Parry on a weekly link up we both do called Five Minute Fridays. As we’ve gotten to know each other through our blogs, my respect for this lady continues to grow. She’s a beautiful writer and a sweet lady with a vibrant relationship with God. I asked her to share part four of my series Life Lessons. (Find Parts One, Two, and Three here). I look forward to the day I get to sit and have coffee with Tiffany in person. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the words she shares on her blog.

Please help me welcome Tiffany!

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My 40th birthday is a few weeks away. As I look ahead with anticipation, I also look back and assess the landscape of my life. I’m counting what I’ve accomplished, the dreams I’ve pursued, and even the longings I’ve allowed to slip through my fingers.

It’s true what they say: youth is wasted on the young.

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Find: Being Found

Psalm 139 moon shine

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

FIND

I was petty young the first time I hid on purpose. Not playing hide-and-seek, but really deliberately hid.

My sisters and I were at our cousins’ house. Someone had hurt my feelings, and so I decided to hide. They had a square brick column, maybe four feet high, that sat in the back alley. Back in the day, it’s where people dumped the ashes from their cooking fires. I shimmied in there and waited.

First, I hid because my feelings were hurt. Then, because I was mad, I decided to stay hidden. My aunt, cousins, called my name, waiting for me to respond. No one thought to look in the ash container. So I stayed.

Flower amid rock

After awhile, it grew lonely, and I got over my mad and came out. I didn’t want to be found, and I’d discovered the perfect hiding spot.

How many times have I wanted someone to find me? Those times when I felt invisible, unseen, insignificant? I wanted someone to find me, to affirm me. I admit, I still struggle with being an affirmation junkie.

Sometimes I’ve hidden to protect my feelings,my heart. But I longed to be found by someone.

God is so sweet. He tells us in Psalm 139 that He sees us in the light, He sees us in the darkness. The darkness is as light to Him. We may try to hide, but He always knows where to find us.

As I read this psalm again this morning, I realized He also finds us in the dark seasons of our lives, when circumstances threaten to overwhelm us. We may feel invisible to the world, to those around us. We may feel invisible to Him, whether we’re trying to hide or not. We may feel engulfed by life’s hard.

Butterfly on flowers

But He sees us. He finds us in our dark places. He finds us in the darkest of trials, and He sits with us, walks with us, leads us. He always knows where to find us.

Have you been found by Him lately?

What about you? When have you hidden successfully? When have you wanted to be found?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—FIND

Life Lessons: Finding Peace

Summer Snowballs

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part three in a five-part series about life lessons. Some friends and I are answering the question: What life lesson has changed you the most? You can read part one and part two here.

I don’t know when I fell in love with photography. As a girl, I begged for a camera. And for my tenth Christmas, my parents gave me their old Kodak 110 camera. I made everyone shrug into their winter coats and stand outside on bare, brown ground so I could take family photographs. My camera made occasional appearances after that.

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Learn: The Best Lessons

Autumn path

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

This prompt goes along well with series I’m hosting on my blog this month on Life Lessons. I shared one of the most life-changing lessons I’ve learned in a recent post. As I thought about other life-lessons, here’s another one I’ve learned.

LEARN

Life offers many opportunities to learn.

As a child, I learned the sting that rejection inflicts on a girl’s heart. I learned the warped lies that come from believing the words, when they’re said to you enough. And for years, I believed them.

As a teen, I learned the truth of Jesus’ gospel gift. And I embraced Him as my Savior, and my Lord. I wouldn’t learn what it means to know Him as a lover until much later.

As a college student, I learned that compromise never leads to lasting joy. Compromise may lead to temporary acceptance, short-term feel-goods, but never to lasting fulfillment.

As a young professional (teacher) I learned the beauty of falling in love with God’s word. Hardship in the classroom instilled on my heart the need for knowing God’s word. Leaning into Him was the best thing I could have learned in my tumultuous first year of teaching.

Quiet Time

In my twenties I learned the heartache and the beauty of waiting. That when I waited for God’s best for me, I would learn how to desire Him above any man. And when God brought the man I’d prayed over for years? He was so much better than anything I could have dreamed up.

Infertility? Yea, lots of lessons there. Adoption? Lots more lessons there. For another post.

Now, as a mom in my forties, I’m learning how to begin letting go of the precious boys God’s given us. Sure, they’re only twelve and eleven, but already, they’re anxious to discover who they’re meant to be. They may not know it yet, but they’ll have many life lessons to learn as well.

Watching them get hurt—trusting them into God’s hands is hard—but it holds its own beauty. 

Holding Hands

Growing older with my husband, I’m still learning the delight that comes in complete acceptance/unconditional love from a human.

One of the best lessons I’ve learned so far in my nearly fifty years? I don’t have to work for acceptance from anyone else. God’s unfailing acceptance of me—His delight and perfect love for me—is enough.

What about you? What ’s one lesson you’ve been learning? What’s the most life-changing lesson you’ve learned? 

Life Lessons: An Embarrassing Display—Guest Post by Shelli Littleton

8. Bear (1)

 

I’m so excited to have Shelli Littleton guest posting today, as the second of a five part series on Life Lessons. I first “met” Shelli on a blog we both follow. Her thoughtful, encouraging comments—both in response to that blog, as well as to other commenters—revealed what a uplifting person she is. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her over the last couple years. Her love for Jesus and living her life for Him comes through her words.  

Please welcome Shelli!

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By Shelli Littleton

“Shelli, you have about a 50% chance of conception,” my doctor said, leaning over my hospital bed. I can’t begin to relay the pain I felt or the tears I cried. For you see, having a family had been my childhood dream.

Embarrassment … shame, and everything in between, covered me. All my friends were having babies … baby showers. I felt less than ….

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Here: Determined to Stay Here

Rainy day road

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

HERE

Tweeting with some of the FMF ladies tonight, the phrase, “keeping it real,” came up. How easy is it, really, to do this? As I’ve thought about what my week has held . . . oh, it’s been real all right.

Real agonizing as one boy struggles with what his core identity is.

Real painful as I watch him battle things out with me and those around him.

Real sorrowful knowing I can’t be all that I want to be for him.

Because, really, what he—and all of us—needs is that close intimacy with Jesus. Right here, in our hearts, in our thoughts.

At times this week, I questioned why God thought I was ever the right person to mother these two amazing boys—His gifts to us.

But, gifts don’t always come with no trouble. The most worthwhile gifts often require change in the recipient. And so too, does the gift of motherhood.

Hands fingers intertwined

Right here, in my home, I’ve been challenged to stay humble before the Lord. To press in hard to Him, begging for a soft heart once again.

Right here in my home, I’ve cried, I’ve ranted a little, and I’ve prayed . . . hard, for all that’s going on in our hearts.

It’s right here in this place, on my face, where God can work the changes in me that He needs to work. When I am humble before Him, when I’m willing to look at everything going on with eyes that look beyond my own hurt? That’s when He can begin the work of healing and restoring.

I need to be here, in this place—right now—for Him to begin that work. No, I don’t want to be in the place of pain. But it’s often here when I feel the closest to Him . . . When I know His peace the most intimately.

Orangy flowers

It’s only here, in this moment—hands lifted to God in prayer and choosing to worship Him—that I can know the depths of His presence.

Right here is where I’ll remain, even when life’s pain is great.

What about you? When have you chosen to endure pain to know God better? How do you remain in the hard places without losing heart?

Hop on over to Kate Motaung’s site, and celebrate her one year anniversary of hostessing Five Minute Friday—Here