Focus: Peace in Hard Seasons

Winter leaves on snow

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

FOCUS

There’s something so precious about a baby gazing into it’s mama’s eyes. The complete trust, adoration, and love that jumps from tiny eyes to grown-wise eyes that melts my heart.

When I think about Isaiah 26:3, this is what comes to mind. That baby may live in a tumultuous situation, but if it has its mama (and its papa), nothing else really matters. Babies trust their parents to take care of them, to protect them, to provide for them, to love them.

I believe this is how God wants us to look at him.

Life has been challenging these past couple weeks. Disappointments, injuries, and a fair amount of chaos have torn my eyes away from the Lord.

And, unfortunately, I somehow slipped from that place of trusting the Lord to walk with me, to thinking I need to “handle life” on my own. I have struggled with keeping my heart focused on Jesus.

But, when I can look into His eyes—when my mind remembers Who He is—I can rest in Him.

Is 26-3 storm background copy

How do we truly get to know God’s perfect peace?

First by keeping our minds stayed on Jesus. Keeping our thoughts focused on the truth of who He is.

Second, when we trust Him. With everything. The disappointments, the struggles, the hard that joins us on our path.

It’s when we remember who God is in the midst of life’s hard that we can know God’s perfect peace. It’s when we trust Him with all of who we are, when we choose to believe He is who He says He is . . . this is when we can know his peace.

Sun's rays

I want to be like that baby, looking into Jesus’ eyes and not worrying about my present circumstances. I want to see Him through eyes of adoration, complete trust, and deepening love.

And this happens when I’m focused on Him rather than my circumstances.

This song is really speaking to my spirit right now. I hope it doe to yours as well.

What about you? What are you walking through right now that’s causing a lack of peace in your heart? How do you focus your eyes on Jesus when circumstances press in close to you?

 

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

Change: When Change Finds You

Early morning ski run

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Sometimes, we know a change is coming. Other times, it makes its presence known through a simple tumble down a mountainside.

Yes, that would be the change I just encountered. We took the boys skiing recently. I was on my first run of the day, hurrying down ahead of hubby and Edmund, because I needed to exchange my boots.

The boots got exchanged all right . . . for a splint and a sprained knee.

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Quiet: When Life Feels Overwhelming

White laden trees

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

QUIET

Just before I read what our word was for this week, I got some news that has my spirit in turmoil and my heart all twisted up. No, someone didn’t die. But the news was not what I had hoped to hear. It will be life-changing.

It’s been a crazy couple weeks, with a willful boy, an incomplete science project that’s over deadline and an injury. I am spent. I am frazzled, and I feel beaten up by circumstances.

It’s so easy to go off on someone, to vent my fear, my frustration and my response at God’s “No” answer to my prayer. It’s so easy to get busy and forget that there is One who wants to draw near to me.

I have a choice. I can push Him away and keep my body busy and my spirit sapped.

Or, I can choose to be still. To yield to Him. I can choose to draw near to Jesus.

The world tells us being productive is the answer.

But there are times when being productive is just ignoring a deeper problem. A deep need.

Quiet trees

In this case, my need is to come near to Jesus. To cry a few tears and to humble myself before Him. I didn’t get what I had hoped He would grant.

And that is okay.

He’s giving me an opportunity to see what Zephaniah 3:17 lived out in real time looks like.

If I want to know the blessings of His love, the tenderness of His affection, I’m going to have to quiet myself. Still my fingers. Breathe deep, and jump into the deep places of trusting God.

I love the part in the verse that says He will quiet us with His love.

More than anything else right now, I need this. To have His love wash over every single part of who I am. To feel the calming affects of His presence soothing, quieting the fears trying to overtake me and cause me to live in a frenetic state.

Zeph 317-2 copy

There are times when His quiet love is the only answer to the disappointments in life. If I want to know it, I need to choose to trust God’s plan, even in the uncertainties.

What about you? When has Jesus quieted you with His love? How do you handle the unexpected fears that sometimes crash into your life?

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

Interruptions: Hidden Opportunities

Big foot little foot

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’m seeing a pattern with one of our sons. He summons my attention, usually with just a grunt or some cute little sound. Without fail, it’s when I’m in the middle of a thought, or having a quiet time, or I’m trying to write something down before I forget it.

I’ll be having my quiet time, and from my doorway I hear, “Mama!” Or a grunt. Honestly? Too often, my first response is a heavy sigh. I turn, because it’s expected, and make eye contact with the boy.

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Present: Heart Lessons in Being Present

Early morning presenceOur Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PRESENT. 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!

**Please bear with me. This post went a bit over five minutes. 

PRESENT

Being fully present is not as easy as it sounds. Being fully present in body, mind and heart is hard sometimes.

When that presence requires a sacrifice, I confess my heart often chafes at the inconvenience. And when things take longer than I expected, I begin to feel stressed.

This has been one of those stress-inducing weeks with unexpected demands on “my”  time impacting everything I had planned to do this week.

When things don’t got he way I thought they would, when others don’t cooperate with how things are supposed to be done, I begin to be stressed. Which often reflects itself in my words and through the insecurities that surface.

It’s been one of those weeks.

Father son presence

I am learning that, though I say I want to be fully engaged with what’s going on in my boys’ lives, with meeting their needs, I don’t always have the heart attitude that reflects this desire.

I have so much to learn about humility and the beauty that comes from being not only fully present, but willingly present. 

When my heart sets aside the expectations, and my mind lays down the plans I had for “my” time, then I am more willingly present when the unexpected chomps away the time in a week.

I’m seeing God’s hand and His patience as He is fully present with me. He never leaves. He’s always got a shower of grace waiting to wipe off the grime of my pride. To cleanse the stress from my heart.

Sometimes plans need to be laid aside to ease stress, so that being fully present is pleasant . . . especially for the one I’m present with.

sunlight presence

Being fully present also means remembering that “my” time is not really my own. God gives us time, and lets us choose how we spend it. If I want to truly be a light to others, it starts with relinquishing cement-laid plans and asking the Lord to write His plans into my day.

Honestly? I’m not there yet. But this word has challenged me to evaluate my attitude . . . and see the need to make a few things right with my family.

What about you? How do you keep a right heart in being present with those around you? What does being fully present look like for you?

Waiting: 4 Tips to Help in Waiting Times

Psalm 130 Wait copy

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Right now, I’m waiting. For an answer. And it feels like this waiting has been going on for nigh-unto-forever. Really, it’s only been a little over two months, but the days feel long. The thoughts keep questioning. “When will I hear an answer? Will it be the one I hope for?”

Waiting. Is. Hard.

Period.

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Time: Time Is a Gift

Clock on shelf

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

There’s so much I could have said about this topic, but I narrowed it down to today’s life lesson. I have a suspicion Time will figure into more blog posts. :) And I confess, I went a wee bit over. 

TIME

The older my boys get, the faster time flies.

There are so many distractions that eat up the minutes in a day. So many things to take care of that require my attention be focused on a screen.

There’s a place and a time for this, yes.

But my boys . . . they only live this day once. They come home from school with issues. And, when I’m distracted, it’s beyond easy to deal with the surface disrespect, the incomplete homework the binder left at school. So easy to reprimand.

But it takes a willingness to give of “my” time to get below the surface of that disrespectful answer.

Today one boy came home, glibly declared he’d left an important binder at school. And wrote me a note that about broke my heart.

God stopped me right there.

I went to his room. He poured out the struggles, the frustrations, the weariness that comes from being made to feel less-than by his peers.

I wish I had the answers! But, as my boys grow older, I won’t always have the perfect response to their heartbreaks. Sometimes, all I can give them is my time, my heart.

Glittery watch

My heart needs to be aligned with Jesus first. This takes time.

Yes, my boys will never be this young again.

They deserve my time—my full attention—as they walk through life’s hard during their pre-teen and teen years. When I’m focused on my to-do’s, its easy to forget how painful these years are. How painful it is to be the last picked for a team on the playground.

Time is a gift I can give to my children. Giving them time means my time won’t be spent on something I’m trying to accomplish.

When it comes right down to it, my family is the most important priority God’s given me. He’s the giver of all good gifts, and that includes time. But, He leaves the choice up to me as to how I use it.

Hands fingers intertwined

If I’m not willing to spend the time God gives me on them, then His gift is wasted. The boys are hardened. And I lose out.

I’m working to gift the time God gives me to those who are most important in my life.

What about you? How do you make choices to spend your time wisely? How do you gift your time to others?

Take a moment and read Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post on Time.

Gratitude: Training Our Children to Have Grateful Hearts

Presence not presents quote copy

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This all started with a picture . . .

Though we’ve tried hard to prevent that sense of entitlement in our boys, they’ve have fallen prey to the “I deserve this” mentality. We have never bought them stuff just because they wanted it, never impulsively purchased a candy bar in the check out aisle.

We’ve worked hard to help our boys see nothing truly belongs to us. All that we have (and we have a lot) has been given to us by our good God.

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2016: One Word

Hazy trees, sun behind

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

It’s funny how some years, I know what my word is right away, and other years, I don’t know. I begin praying about my word around September of the preceding year.

This year . . . nothing came. I tried on a few words to see how they fit with my heart. One grated, another fit poorly. None resonated.

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Tender: Jesus’ Reflection Through Us

Christmas on the outside

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—OUR CHOICE. Yeah, this one scared me a little bit. But the word came quickly, so here goes!

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!

TENDER

This week we lost a student in our high school. It’s left our school’s community in shock. Though my boys aren’t in high school yet, they’ve been impacted.

When I heard the news, my heart cried for that mama. She’s probably already bought Christmas gifts for her chid. Had plans and ways to make memories with her family. This family who will walk through their first Christmas without this precious son.

What happened to “peace on earth, good will to men?” What’s happening in our world that strips away the tenderness in our hearts, our spirits?

We’re divided with so much to do in a season that should also encompass joy. And yet, so many are struggling with hard, hard situations.

My prayer this Christmas season is that I would have a heart that is tender toward those hurting in my circle.

That I would see beyond the smiling exterior and know how to speak a word of hope or encouragement.

That I would take the time to see beyond the surface and speak something that would make them feel just a little bit better.

snow-blown landscape

This season is not always happy and cheerful for people. Especially those who’ve lost loved ones this year.

And yet, Jesus.

Jesus knows the hurts so many people face. He knows that celebrating this Christmas is beyond them. Maybe all they have energy for is to get out of bed. To try to—I don’t know—eat a meal.

May we who are not in those hard situations right now look beyond the busy-ness in our own lives, and at the very least, take a moment to pray for those hurting during this season. May we take that extra moment to express, “I care” through words to those in pain.

Jesus didn’t tell us to be happy all the time. And though He gives us joy, there are times when the feeling eludes us.

He does exhort us to be a reflection of Himself. When Jesus saw someone hurting, He came alongside them, spoke truth and hope to them. Not condemnation. Not fake euphemisms.

Jesus ornament

With this unexpected death rocking our little school community this week, it’s got me thinking about how I can celebrate Christmas with authenticity, with a tender heart and with eyes that see beyond the initial and into the “real.”

May we see people around us through Jesus’ eyes and reach out to them with His tender love.

What about you? How do you grapple with the tragedies and still hold onto hope? What’s one thing you do to celebrate Christmas authentically?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday. Click to see many other great posts!

*****

I am taking a little blogging vacation to spend time with my family. As you celebrate Christmas, may you know Jesus’ presence in special ways.

I’ll see you on January 5, 2016!