Affirmation: Looking For Five Stars

digitalart FDP

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I am at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference this week. I had intended to put up a fresh blog, but I ran out of time. I hope you will enjoy a little post I wrote a few years back. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. I’m going to do my best to respond to comment and comment on your blogs. Please have patience with me.🙂

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I recently visited a friend’s blog. She had wonderful news to share, and I eagerly celebrated with her. I happened to notice at the bottom of her post that people had given that post a five-star rating.

Hmmm. I wondered if anyone had given me a five star rating? Or less? Here’s where it gets sad (in that I did this to begin with). I checked my recent blog posts, and sighed.

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Community: Live in Community

Morning light on flowers

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I sat at my kitchen table, golden light filtering in. My back door slid open to let in the cool of the morning. As I closed my eyes I heard chickadees singing, dogs barking and a baby crying. Soft sunlight glittered on the puddles of last night’s rain storm. Piano music played from my computer.

As I listened to the noises all around, felt included in our community.  Continue reading

Lift: Who Lifts You?

Holding Hands

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—LIFT. 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!

LIFT

Did you ever have one of those days where you just have to keep pressing on? You’re weary. The kids are pulling at every strand of who you are. But you cannot quit. You can’t run away to Australia (though I threaten to sometimes).

Or, maybe the job is demanding every part of you. A rough boss. Taxing schedule.

We all become weary.

I love the picture of Aaron and Hur lifting Moses’ arms during the battle. They strengthened him to do what he had to do.

To lower his arms meant death for the Israelites.

They were an interdependent community. Moses knew he needed help. Aaron and Hur were available to help him.

Why is it, we think we have to go through life strong . . . alone?

Why do we fall for the lie that everything must be carried on our shoulders?

God has given us friends, He’s placed people in our lives for a reason. He created us with a deep need for fellowship.

Can we do life alone? Maybe. For awhile.

But we’re going to fall to pieces. We’re going to be defeated by the enemy when we try to do life in our own strength, isolated.

Dad-son arm in arm

He created us to benefit from being helped by others. I believe God may even place us in situations where the only way to get through is to reach out for help.

When we ask for help, when we let others lift our arms? That’s when we are strengthened. When we let others help us, we are given hope . . . and so are they.

There are blessings to be given when we allow others to come alongside us in lifting our arms, our spirits, our eyes to Jesus.

It’s only when we invite others to lift us up in prayer that we can thrive. It’s when others lift us up physically—spiritually—that we grow.

Three friends silhouette

And we also gain a better view of who God is, and who He is in us and others.

Don’t be afraid to let others in. Don’t fear trusting others to lift your arms.

What about you? What’s the hardest thing about asking for help? What’s been the greatest benefit of letting others help you?

Click to Tweet: When we let others help us, we are given hope . . . and so are they.

Today, I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday—LIFT

Worry: Living Out Today

Father-son kayaking

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Can I be honest and say that I was naive about the teen years? I had this idea that, sure, the boys would grow bigger, hormones would pulse, change their voices, add odors, and transform them from children into men.

I had the idea that, though there would be disagreements, we’d be able to work through them the way we always have: talking about them.

What I didn’t anticipate was the changes in personality. The sneakiness as their thought processes develop. I didn’t expect the volatile emotions. I know, I know. I should have.

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Happy: Happiness and Joy

Rain kissed flowers

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—HAPPY. 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!

HAPPY

When Kate announced our word this week, I had to stop and think. I had John Denver going through my head (Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy…”)

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I frequently struggle with living out happiness and living out joy. Sometimes happiness seems the more shallow emotion, the more temporal choice.

But really, there are times when I’m. Just. Happy. Period.

When the boys make me laugh big. When my husband wraps an arm around me, or pulls me into a kiss.

When a friend confides something to me.

When I have the privilege of praying for someone struggling wth something BIG.

I’m happy.

Joy is something that comes when things are rough. Joy is something I can choose. Good has given us joy. And this is wonderful. It’s a part of who He is.

With Edmund and Peter

He’s filled us with it. “The joy of the Lord will be my strength.”

Joy helps us through the most difficult of times. The struggles. The heartaches. The fun times.

Happiness seems more ethereal at times. More temporary. But it sometimes fills every cranny of who I am.

Happiness fills me when God paints the sky in bright vibrant colors. Ribbons of peach with soft hues of creams and yellows, make my heart sigh in wonder.

I feel happy.

God shows His artistry with the changing leaves. The spring flowers. The contrast of white on tree branches against a deep azure sky.

Happiness is something we can feel in the moment. It may not always last. But that doesn’t make it a lesser thing.

Joy runs deeper, but happiness sometimes fills me. Fulfills me, shining a bit of light in a dark season.

Happiness comes when

Happiness comes when we can look beyond our hard and see God’s handiwork all around us. Or maybe just in front of us. The point is, we can look for, and find Him.

Then we can know happiness and joy.

What about you? What makes you happy? When is one time when you chose joy?

Click to tweet: Happiness is something we can feel in the moment.

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

And, just in case you’re interested, here’s the song by John Denver I mentioned above:

 

Dream: Staying Strong

Sunkissed white flowers

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Chasing a dream rarely looks the way we expect it to. Real life, in the form of boys home for the summer and writing disappointments, has swooped in and sapped my enthusiasm.

I thought I would be much further along in my journey by now. Yet, here I am, in the same place I stood a year ago. Only, not entirely.

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Hidden: When It’s Time To Stop Hiding

Autumn sunrise 2 copyFive Minute Friday prompt this week is—HIDDEN. 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!

HIDDEN

I never really understood it until this year.

This crazy desire to keep the essence of who I am hidden behind the image I thought others wanted to see. Anyone who’s read my blog for long knows that I have struggled with finding my identity in Jesus.

The rejection that happens to a child stays with her for a lifetime.

It takes that long for some of us to erase those horrible words and messages and allow God’s truth to be written over the walls of our mind.

This year, as God teaches me about my word AUTHENTIC, He’s showing me I don’t have to stay hidden.

I don’t have to present the “got-it-all-together” face to the women in my life.

I don’t have to show only a fraction of the real me . . . the part I think others will find acceptable.

Do I show all of myself to everyone? No.

There are times when too much information is simply that: Too Much Information.

But, there are times when God is calling me—each of us, really—to reflect the whole of who we are. Authenticity begins copy

Authenticity begins when we trust Jesus with our inner stories. It begins when we choose to talk with Him about those wounds we all carry.

He’s showing me I need to choose to trust Him when He puts me with others. I need to trust Him enough to share His light—as only I can shine it—with others.

I need to trust Him enough to live as the person He created me to be. We’re each unique. There’s no one else like us in the whole world or its history. God created each of us for a purpose.

When we hide the essence of who we are behind a facade, we aren’t trusting Him, and we’re dimming His light within us.

We need to trust enough to share our stories with others. Because when we share, who knows? Maybe others will be encouraged. Light behind clouds

Maybe they will find glimmers of hope for their own lives.

Maybe they will even want to know Jesus . . . all because we opened ourselves up to trust Him to shine through us. As we are.

What about you? When you’re nervous about being your authentic self, what do you do? What helps you to live authentic? 

Click to tweet: Authenticity begins when we trust Jesus with our inner stories

Linking up with Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday—Hidden

Test: God Is With Us

Test

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Why does God test us?

As I was reading Judges 3, I made it to the second verse before the Lord stopped me.

“These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wards in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience):…” (NIV)

And it goes on to list the nations.

The first time I read this, I thought about the Lord testing the Israelites, as in—did He want them to fail? What was He testing? Their abilities?

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Help: When We Say, “Yes.”

 

Peter with some helpMy Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—HELP. 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!

**I confess, I could have gone so  many different directions, and gone deeper, but five minutes is five minutes (or maybe 5:30 this time😉 ).

HELP

My youngest had just turned one when he made up his mind he would not accept help when it came to eating. He pushed our hands away and gave us the stink eye on more than one occasion when we tried to help him.

This strong-willed, amazing boy has continued to have this trait of not accepting help from anyone if there’s even a remote a chance he can do “it” by himself.

I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve had those same tendencies. That desire to do things on my own runs D-E-E-P.

I want to claim the applause of the accomplishment.

I don’t have to admit my need.

Man, we are prideful creatures, aren’t we?

Even though God tells us He is our help, I still want to have control over the things I’m trying to do. I want to do it in my timing, in  my way.

Whether it’s mothering, writing, or some other task, I’d simply rather do it on my own.

It’s so much easier that way.

Or is it?

Psalm 146-5 copy

Over the last number of years, God has allowed me into situations that are far bigger than myself.

Teaching elementary school for a few years before getting married.

Moving three times in two-and-a-half years. Yeah, that was kind of big too.

And mothering? This is a huge “bigger-than-me” thing.

God is showing me that there is a beauty in being able to ask for help. Being able to admit that yeah, I’m needy. Such a humiliating thing to confess in our culture.

But God never looks down on our neediness. (Click to Tweet)

He wants to help us. He’s told us He would, but He’s a gentleman. He’ll not push His way into our lives. More often than not, He will wait until we ask.

When we choose dependence on Him, and on others? That’s when relationships deepen. When we can share those vulnerabilities with others, that’s when we grow in depth as people.

Women Praying copy

When we refuse the help others offer, we can steal blessings from them.

Which way would God prefer we interact with others and with Him? As though we are part of a community of people who care about each other, or as though we’ve got it all figured out, but are dying on the inside?

What about you? When has someone’s offer to help you proven to be a blessing in disguise? When have you seen God’s help in your life? 

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

Homeless: A Heart Like Jesus

Home doormat

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Can I be honest and say I am a cynic?

And I am convicted.

As I watched this video, I was challenged to think about what home is.

I’ve seen and given to people who were wearing new tennis shoes and decent-looking clothes, and I’ve questioned if they were really homeless, or if they were trying to turn a quick buck.

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